Deb Fischer has been Nebraska’s U.S. Senator for six years now and is running for a second term. Actually, she’s running in the primary seeking the right to run for that second term. She didn’t draw a “bye” in the primary, unlike U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry. On the contrary, she’s being primaried by a total of nine — count ’em — nine challengers.
Primary challenges can arise when members of the partisan fringes within a party attempt to unseat a moderate incumbent. These are cases where some portion of the incumbent’s base perceives him or her to be out of step with them. Although this does occur, primary challengers are also motivated to remove an incumbent for misbehavior while in office and/or for perceived incompetency.
The sheer number of challengers who’ve thrown their hats in the ring make one wonder: What is the source of the opposition Senator Fischer is currently facing? Who exactly has Deb Fischer shown herself to be over her last six years in office? Who are her constituents — her base — politically; and is there a divide — actual or perceived — between her politics and theirs — or should I say “ours”?
Although Nebraska congratulates itself on being a solidly red state, we here at GiN have consistently maintained that Nebraska is, in fact, a one-party state, at least among its politicians, and that party is the party of progressivism. Nebraska Republicans talk a good game, but fail to deliver on many of their promises re “conservative” issues. A good example of this was the multiple candidates that campaigned for a seat in the Unicameral in 2014, assuring voters that they would support the death penalty, only to abruptly reverse themselves and vote to end the death penalty immediately after their election.
In a recent article describing the political parties on the federal level, Republicans were dubbed “The Can’t-Do Republicans,” always quick with the promises, followed closely by all the reasons why those promises cannot be kept.
“First, they asked for control of the House and its appropriations authority to right the fiscal ship, and as importantly, to end Obamacare. In 2010, they got it — and immediately stated they could do nothing without the Senate. In 2014, they were awarded that, too — and just as quickly declared they could do nothing without the White House. So, in 2016 they were handed that, and with it complete control of the legislative process, but now with no more excuses available.
“And what have they done? They surrendered without a fight.”
Senator Fischer characterizes herself as a staunch conservative when campaigning here in Nebraska, but conducts herself in the Senate as a “can’t-do” Republican. She goes along with the party to get along. Otherwise, why would she put herself in the position to appear to be either a willing shill of the Party establishment or too dumb to recognize when she’s being used? Witness this video:
Was this promise kept? NO. And I do find it interesting that she was chosen as the Party’s mouthpiece concerning Obamacare and the Republicans’ big plans to repeal it . . . in January of 2017. You may recall that the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act on multiple occasions while Obama was still in office. Funny how that majority disappeared once Trump became president and there was a real chance he would actually sign such legislation. At least three attempts at repealing Obamacare, at least in part, were unsuccessful in the Senate by July of 2017, within six months of Fischer filming this video. What a crock!
In addition, Fischer’s competence — whether she has a firm grasp of issues and is sufficiently articulate to discuss them in an intelligent manner — appears questionable at times. For instance, listen how ineptly she expresses herself in this video:
Does she even know what she’s talking about? It doesn’t appear so. She seems to be reading a script she doesn’t understand and can’t explain. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but this seems to be a fairly consistent problem for Fischer. At her best, she appears to be totally dependent on a “cheat sheet” during committee hearings on Capitol Hill. A case in point: What other senator would have ceded the microphone without following up on Defense Secretary Mattis’s comment about ordering Russian mercenaries to be “annihilated” in Syria?
Interestingly, my research into Fischer’s primary opponents from her own party leads me to conclude the Senator is being primaried by . . . left-leaning Republicans and/or outright leftists running as Republicans, to wit:
Jack Heidel is a former college math professor who seems to speak “Republican” (sort of) until he gets to gun control (i.e., he advocates an assault rifle ban) and global warming (i.e., carbon tax, anyone?);
Dennis Frank Macek is taking a second shot at reaching the U.S. Senate. He ran — in 2014 — and lost to now U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. The centerpiece of Macek’s current campaign website is a video of his debate performance during the 2014 campaign wherein he chastises the Republican Party for “ignoring” the “defining, overriding issue of our time,” which, according to him, is . . . (cue drumroll, please) . . . the global climate. He contends the federal government must lead the way in that area “collaborating” with private businesses like what occurred during WWII. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call what FDR did to private enterprise back in the 1940s a “collaborative” effort in any way, shape, or form.
Jeffrey Lynn Stein is short on substance, but I’ll give him points for originality. His centerpiece video on his website features him at various ages and levels of fitness sporting running shoes and shorts, but sans a shirt. I stopped watching when I was almost blinded by the sun reflected off his white belly in a photograph of him lying on the ground next to what appears to be a Gallapagos turtle. Watch at your own risk.1 Clicking on links at Stein’s site, I did find an introductory letter he wrote to the Lincoln Journal Star in which he proposes the ...continue
That three out of the four Republican challengers Fischer faces in the primary are arrayed from the left to the far left of her politically indicates to me that the liberal progressives in the state perceive Fischer to be vulnerable to some extent. Perhaps they anticipate a wave of disgruntled voters turning out to unseat Fischer as a backlash against Congressional Republicans generally — that “can’t-do” factor. I think it’s more likely, however, that these three primary challengers chose to run on the Republican ballot because Jane Raybould appears to be the anointed Democratic nominee this primary season. The Lincoln Journal Star is already handicapping a Fischer/Raybould race, albeit based on very sparse polling data.
But why would that hypothetical wave of disgruntled Republican voters break left when they arguably have a viable candidate to the RIGHT of Senator Fischer? Todd F. Watson is last on the sample ballot form but not least, in my not-so-humble opinion. He’s the only primary candidate — whether Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian2The remaining Libertarian candidate on the ballot, Jim Schultz, is a lifelong Democrat that, reportedly, saw the light and converted to ...continue — running to the right of Fischer. Watson apparently ran as an Independent in 2014, but did so as a “constitutionalist.” He maintains that stance in his current race, running a campaign with the motto “Make Republicans Conservative Again.” Local media is apparently weirded out by what it sees as similarities between Watson’s current campaign and Candidate Trump’s during the 2016 presidential election. But I beg to differ. Watson is running on issues, but bases the stances he takes on an underlying foundational world view which lends coherence to his ideas. Trump tends to shoot from the hip and deal with issues as they come, rather than be guided by any organized set of core beliefs — other than “winning.” Besides all that, one of the many issue-oriented videos Watson has posted on his site speaks to — wait for it — STATE SOVEREIGNTY — an issue near and dear to our hearts here at GiN.
Watson appears to be running as the antidote to the “Can’t-Do” Republicans, generally, and to Fischer, specifically. He is in a position to claim independence from the party, even while running as a Republican in the Republican primary. If a wave of disgruntled voters materializes at the polls on May 15th, they may well flock to Watson for all the right reasons.
What has Senator Fischer done for us lately? Not much. What has she and her Republican cohorts in Congress done TO us lately? A lot, but mostly by omission and all of it bad.3 As Bozell and Graham note, “Any real advance, be it Justice Gorsuch, regulatory relief, minimal border security, minimal tax cuts or minimal ...continue
Notes & References [ + ]
|1.||↑|| Clicking on links at Stein’s site, I did find an introductory letter he wrote to the Lincoln Journal Star in which he proposes the following:
“If elected, I will design, develop, and implement an Explicit Cost System (ECS) that holds the certified federal data expenditures in detail. I would propose that this information be available via the internet. Utilizing a cascading array based on an individual’s input (a.k.a. the “me” parameter), the annual gross cost of any federally-funded project or proposed project under debate, will be calculated and the tax consequence will be projected as a percentage/dollar amount of that individual’s gross income. Once costs are identified via the stat (who; what; where; when; and, most importantly, how much), a judgment call for any federal legislation can then be based on budget and merit.”
Which might actually be a viable way for voters to inform themselves if it was possible to ACCURATELY and OBJECTIVELY determine the costs of individual federal programs — either looking back over what has already been spent or projecting the future cost of any program — in a TIMELY fashion. However, if Stein anticipates individual citizens making these judgment calls to be literally voting measures up and down a la a direct democracy, that’s contrary to our Republic and the Constitution.
|2.||↑||The remaining Libertarian candidate on the ballot, Jim Schultz, is a lifelong Democrat that, reportedly, saw the light and converted to libertarianism when Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination. Although his conversion may be complete, I can’t find a whole lot to recommend his judgment to me in the text of the short bio from his website nor the fact that the page “where Jim discusses the issues” is blank.|
|3.||↑||As Bozell and Graham note, “Any real advance, be it Justice Gorsuch, regulatory relief, minimal border security, minimal tax cuts or minimal changes in Obamacare, has all been driven by the White House. Congress has done nothing.”|