Deb Fischer

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This article is about the American politician. For other uses, see Deb Fischer (disambiguation).
Deb Fischer
Deb Fischer official Senate photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Nebraska
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Serving with Ben Sasse
Preceded by Ben Nelson
Member of the Nebraska Legislature
from the 43rd district
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Jim Jones
Succeeded by Al Davis
Personal details
Born Debra Strobel
(1951-03-01) March 1, 1951 (age 67)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Website Senate website

Debra Strobel "Deb" Fischer (born March 1, 1951) is the senior U.S. Senator from the state of Nebraska. Previously, she was a two-term member of the Nebraska Legislature, representing the 43rd District.[1] She defeated former United States Senator Bob Kerrey in the election held on November 6, 2012, and assumed one of Nebraska's two Senate seats in January 2013.

Fischer is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life, education, and career

Fischer was born Debra Strobel in 1951, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Florence M. (née Bock) and Gerold Carl "Jerry" Strobel.[2][3] Her father was the state director of roads under governor Kay Orr.[4]

In 1972, she married Bruce Fischer, from Valentine, whom she had met while both attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; she left school without completing her degree to move to Valentine with her husband and help operate his family's ranch. In 1988, she returned to the university and completed her B.S. degree in education.[5]

Nebraska legislature (2005–2013)


In 2004, Fischer ran for the Nebraska legislature from the 43rd legislative district. In the nonpartisan primary, she came in second in a field of seven, receiving 2226 votes (25.1%); front-runner Kevin T. Cooksley received 2264 votes (25.5%). In the general election, she defeated Cooksley with 8178 votes to his 8050, for a margin of 50.4%–49.6%.[6]

In 2008, she won re-election unopposed.[7] Nebraska's term-limits law precluded her running for re-election in 2012.[8]


Fischer's district was geographically the largest in the Nebraska Legislature, comprising 12 counties and part of a 13th.[1] During her tenure in the legislature, she did a weekly radio show on seven stations covering her district, and wrote a weekly column printed in several newspapers.[9]

In 2007, she helped to filibuster a bill that created a statewide smoking ban for indoor workplaces and public places.[10]

In 2009, Fischer was one of fourteen co-sponsors of L.B. 675, which required abortion providers to display ultrasound images of the fetus at least one hour prior to the abortions, in a position where the abortion seeker could easily view them. A spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee stated that the Nebraska law was stronger than those of other states, which only required that the client be asked if she wanted to see an ultrasound image. The measure passed by a 40–5 vote, and was signed into law by Governor Dave Heineman.[11]

Committee assignments

  • Executive Board and the Revenue Committee
  • Transportation and Telecommunications Committee (Chair)[12]

U.S. Senate (2013–Present)

2012 election


In January 2012, after incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Nelson announced his retirement, Fischer officially announced she would run for the U.S. Senate.[12] The Republican primary campaign was expected to shape up as a battle between Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg; Fischer and three less well-known candidates were also on the ballot.[13][14]

During the primary campaign, Fischer was criticized by environmentalists and others because her family's ranch near Valentine grazes cattle on federal land, leasing it for about $110,000 per year less than the market rate on private land. Opponents of federal grazing leases argued that she should relinquish her family's permit if she wants to remain "morally consistent" with her message of less government. Fischer argued that the poor quality of federal lands, plus the restrictions that come with federal leases, make it inappropriate to compare them to private leases.[15]

In the campaign, Fischer was outspent by Bruning, who raised $3.6 million, and Stenberg, who spent $865,000. Fischer's campaign raised only $440,000. However, Bruning and Stenberg spent much of their resources attacking one another; Fischer benefitted from the damage that each did to the other's approval ratings. She was also aided by $725,000 in television ads bought by the Club for Growth attacking Bruning. Shortly before the election, she was endorsed by Nebraska U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry and by 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who recorded robocalls endorsing her; and a super PAC financed by former Omaha businessman Joe Ricketts paid for $250,000 worth of television advertising promoting Fischer and opposing Bruning.[13][16]

Fischer won the primary election with 40% of the vote. Bruning ranked second with 35%, and Stenberg ranked third with 18%. Fischer took a plurality of votes in 75 of Nebraska's 93 counties. Bruning won 15 counties and Schuyler businessman Pat Flynn received a plurality in his home Colfax County. Fischer and Bruning tied in Kimball and Sioux counties.[14][17]

General election

In the general election, Fischer faced Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and U.S. senator, who was running for the seat that he had held from 1989 to 2001.

In the course of the campaign, Kerrey's advertising accused Fischer of unprincipled conduct in the matter of a 1995 adverse possession suit, whereunder the Fischers had attempted to obtain title to 104 acres (42 ha) of land adjoining their property.[18] The Kerrey campaign maintained that Fischer, after losing the lawsuit, had used her position in the Legislature to keep the landowners from selling the property to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). The episode, declared a Kerrey website, had shown "[n]eighbor suing neighbor; vindictiveness; pettiness; deceit; abuse of power".[19] Fischer maintained that their intent in filing the suit was to obtain a more manageable boundary for their ranch, after repeated attempts to purchase the land had failed; an Omaha World-Herald analysis stated that the Kerrey campaign's statements regarding Fischer's actions in the Legislature failed to mention her support for a compromise measure that would have allowed NGPC to buy the land.[20] A Fischer spokesman accused Kerrey of "reckless disregard for the truth" and "gutter politics" in the matter.[18]

In the general election, Fischer defeated Kerrey 58%–42%. Fischer won mainly by swamping Kerrey in the state's rural areas. She won 88 of Nebraska's 93 counties. Kerrey only won Douglas, Lancaster, Saline, Thurston, and Dakota counties.[21]

Fischer became the third female U.S. Senator in Nebraska's history, and the first since 1954.[22][23] She is the first elected to a full term: of the earlier woman Senators, Eva Bowring was appointed in 1954 to occupy the seat vacated by the death of Dwight Griswold until a special election could be held to replace him later that year;[24] Hazel Abel won that special election to finish Griswold's term, but did not seek a full term.[25] She is also the first Senator since Carl Curtis (who retired in 1979) who did not live in Omaha or Lincoln at the time of their election.


In Fischer's 2012 campaign materials, she quoted several politicians and editorials describing her as a "true conservative" and a "staunch conservative".[26]

Fischer supports a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and has signed Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising not to raise taxes on individuals and businesses.[27] She has also declared herself opposed to cuts in entitlement programs for Americans over the age of 40.[28]

In her 2012 campaign literature, Fischer stated that she "would vote to fully repeal Obamacare."[29]

Fischer describes herself as "proud to be pro-life", and cites her endorsements from Nebraska Right to Life and from the Susan B. Anthony List.[30]

Fischer's 2012 campaign materials state that she "[s]upports the federal marriage amendment".[26] She opposes same-sex marriage.

According to Fischer's 2012 campaign literature, she has "opposed every attempt effort [sic] by groups seeking to restrict our right to own firearms."[31]

In her 2012 campaign materials, Fischer declared, "The EPA must be reformed and possibly eliminated". She stated that current greenhouse-gas regulations needed to be made less restrictive, and expressed her opposition to a cap-and-trade policy.[32]

In Fischer's 2012 campaign materials, she expressed support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting Senators to two six-year terms, and U.S. Representatives to three two-year terms. She pledged to "limit herself to two terms in office." She also stated that members of the U.S. Congress should be placed under a lifetime ban from becoming federally registered lobbyists.[33]

Fischer's 2012 campaign website states that she "[o]pposes amnesty and benefits for illegal aliens", that she voted against Nebraska's version of the DREAM Act in its passage in 2006, and that she co-sponsored a bill to repeal the state act in 2010.[26]


Fischer voted for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. She voted against Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense.[34] She voted against expanding background checks for gun buyers and other gun control measures.[35]


Fischer has sponsored nineteen bills of her own, including:[36]

  • S. 1539, a bill to require adoption centers to provide pamphlets to potential clients that detail the locations of each adoption center in the state, introduced September 24, 2013
  • S. 2007, a bill to exempt clinical and health software (which the bill defines) from regulation under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, introduced February 10, 2014
  • S. 2043, a bill to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from asking any taxpayer any information regarding religious, political, or social beliefs, introduced February 22, 2014
  • S. 2212, a bill to permit the Financial Stability Oversight Council to set aside any regulation issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if that regulation is deemed by a majority of the Council to be inconsistent with the safe and sound operations of U.S. financial institutions, introduced April 3, 2014
  • S. 2213, a bill to replace the CFPB's director with a five-person commission, whose members would be appointed by the President upon approval by the Senate, introduced April 3, 2014
  • S. 2487, a bill to increase the maximum loan available in the Small Business Administration's microloan program from $50,000 to $100,000, introduced June 18, 2014
  • S. 2568, a bill to increase the maximum allowable contribution in a single taxable year to Coverdell Education Savings Accounts from $2,000 to $5,000, introduced July 8, 2014
  • S. 2583, a bill to permit the Federal Communications Commission to issue regulations allowing for producers of radiofrequency devices with display (which the bill defines) to use electronic labeling for the device in place of physical labeling, introduced July 10, 2014
  • S. 2618, a bill to create a tax credit for businesses equal to 25% of compensation paid to employees during any paid vacation period lasting no more than 12 weeks, up to a maximum of $4,000 per employee per taxable year, introduced July 16, 2014

Committee assignments

Personal life

Fischer and her husband Bruce operate the family ranch, Sunny Slope Ranch, near Valentine, Nebraska. Their adult sons Adam, Morgan, and Luke own the majority of the stock in the family corporation, while the elder Fischers retain a minority share.[4]

Electoral history

Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Deb Fischer 444,319 58 -
Democratic Bob Kerrey 318,930 42
Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2012 – Republican Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Deb Fischer 79,941 41
Republican Jon Bruning 70,067 36
Republican Don Stenberg 36,727 19


  1. 1.0 1.1 "U.S. Senate candidate makes final rounds before Primary". The Imperial Republican. Imperial, Nebraska. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  2. "Sen. Deb Fischer – District 43 – Biography". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Reed, Leslie. "Fischer: Don't count me out". Omaha World-Herald. 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2012-05-19.
  5. "Outstanding LEAD Alum". Nebraska LEAD Alumni Association. Retrieved 2012-05-19.
  6. "Official Report of the Board of Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: Primary Election, May 11, 2004 and General Election, November 2, 2004". Nebraska Library Commission. pp. 31 (primary) and 30 (general). Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  7. "Official Report of the Board of Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 4, 2008". Nebraska Library Commission. p. 17. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  8. Hansen, Matthew. "Deb Fischer's path to politics fueled by grit, determination". Omaha World-Herald. 2012-09-30. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  9. "Senator moonlights as cowpoke on weekends". Unicameral Update. 2005-01-26. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  10. Young, JoAnne. "Lawmakers give first-round OK to smoking ban". Lincoln Journal Star. 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  11. "Nebraska Lawmakers Pass Abortion Ultrasound Bill". Fox News. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Thayer, John. "Senator Deb Fischer Files for U.S. Senate". KSCR-AM. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Tysver, Robynn. "Fischer trips Bruning, will take on Kerrey for Senate seat". Kearney Hub. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: Primary Election, May 15, 2012". Nebraska Secretary of State. pp. 15-18. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  15. Tysver, Robynn. "Critics: Subsidy benefits Fischer". Omaha World-Herald. 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  16. "2012 House and Senate Campaign Finance for Nebraska: Stenberg for Senate 2012 Committee". Federal Election Commission. 2012-09-30. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  17. Blum, Julie. "Flynn takes 2nd run at U.S. Senate". Columbus Telegram. 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wetzel, Diane. "Kerrey critical of Fischer's treatment of neighbor". North Platte Telegraph. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  19. "Nebraska Values". Website copyrighted by Nebraskans for Kerrey. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  20. Tysver, Robynn, and Matthew Hansen. "'Perfect' land at heart of Fischer dispute with neighbors". Omaha World-Herald. 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  21. "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 6, 2012". Nebraska Secretary of State. pp. 12. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  22. White, Steve. "Fischer Win Makes Clean Sweep for Nebraska GOP". Nebraska.TV (ABC) 2012-11-14. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  23. Weiner, Rachel (May 16, 2012). "How Deb Fischer pulled an upset in Nebraska". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  24. "Bowring, Eva Kelly". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  25. "Abel, Hazel Hempel". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Legislative Accomplishments and Conservative Record". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  27. "Taxes & Spending". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  28. "Entitlements". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  29. "Healthcare". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  30. "Protecting Life". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  31. "2nd Amendment Rights". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  32. "Senator Deb Fischer’s Plan to Reduce Energy Costs". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  33. "Senator Deb Fischer Announces Policy Proposal to Reform Congress, Washington D.C". Deb Fischer U.S. Senate campaign website. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  34. "Senator Deb Fischer's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  35. Silver, Nate. "Modeling the Senate’s Vote on Gun Control". New York Times. 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  36. "Senator Fischer's Legislation". Retrieved November 22, 2014. 

Further links

External links