Though the Nebraska Republican Party has certainly tried, it’s hard to find anything bad to say about Bob Kerrey.
A lifelong Nebraskan, he served his nation with distinction as a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War, earning the Medal of Honor and a Bronze Star. He served with distinction as the state’s 35th governor nearly three decades ago and later in the U.S. Senate. He’s smart, eloquent and has a good grasp of the nation’s problems. If elected, he would probably do a great job.
But when he resigned from the Senate in 2001, he chose to leave the state for almost a decade to lead a university in New York state. That doesn’t disqualify him from coming back to reclaim his job in the Senate, but for many Nebraskans it does raise the bar. His return to Nebraska was awkward and seemed more calculated to hold retiring Sen. Ben Nelson’s seat for the Democratic Party than a genuine return to his roots. To be successful, he’ll have to convince a majority of Nebraskans that he’s more interested in returning to Nebraska than returning to Washington. We don’t believe that he’s made that case.
His opponent, Deb Fischer, caught our attention when she led an effort in the Nebraska Legislature to carve out funding for highways in the state budget. She had to buck the state’s education establishment, which saw the diversion of a quarter-cent of sales tax money as an assault on the schools, and the state’s urban lawmakers, who have been loath to invest anything to improve the economy of rural Nebraska. Her Senate campaign has focused on job growth, spending cuts, keeping taxes low and fixing the nation’s broken economy.
We endorsed Fischer in the primary against two big-city establishment Republicans, because we believed that all that Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning brought to the table was a strong desire to be a U.S. senator. While they were slinging mud at each other, Fischer, a rancher from Valentine, kept it classy. While we don’t agree with all of her positions in this campaign, Fischer proved her mettle in the Legislature and would be a strong voice for rural America in the Senate, where such voices are lacking.
She served on the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. She also has a degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in education and has served on her local school board. Although she was forced by term limits to leave her state Senate seat, she showed the sort of leadership and willingness to work that would have made her a stalwart in the Legislature.
We believe those qualities will serve her well in Washington.