The Republican establishment was reeling in Nebraska this week, after a little-known but respected state senator, Deb Fischer, pulled off a stunning upset in the GOP Senate primary. Fischer became the instant favorite in her red state over Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former senator and governor. Until just days before the Tuesday vote, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning was expected to cruise to the GOP nomination, and his only apparent threat was from state Treasurer Don Stenberg, who was backed by conservative groups like Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. But Fischer had something the others didn't... a late endorsement from Sarah Palin. Did that propel her to victory?
Yes. Palin put Fischer over the top: Voters are tired of "politics as usual," says Mike Flynn at Breitbart. Bruning and Stenberg are "standard conservative-ish career politicians." The establishment and even national Tea Party groups, which put their resources behind Stenberg, can't seem to grasp that. "Sarah Palin gets it," and her decision to shake up the race by making everyone take a look at Fischer "made all the difference."
"Palin effect: Fischer wins Nebraska primary"
Attack ads, not Palin, sank Bruning: By the time Palin made her endorsement, Fischer was already surging in polls, says David Catanese at Politico. Stenberg backers had chipped away at Bruning's favorability with attack ads while Fischer stayed "out of the mud." The real "dagger for Bruning" was a brutal $200,000 TV ad paid for by Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts that spotlighted "Bruning's questionable financial interests and cast a cloud over his character" the weekend before the vote.
"Deb Fischer wins Nebraska Senate stunner"
Palin never had the golden touch — but she might now: Palin didn't have the golden touch before, says Rich Galen at The Daily Beast. She endorsed 33 winners and 31 losers in 2010, and by throwing her weight behind "two wholly unqualified candidates" — Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware — she helped Democrats keep the Senate. If she keeps picking winners like Fischer, a "legitimate, if not terribly well known, contender," she'll really become a GOP kingmaker.
"Sarah Palin's latest triumph? Deb Fischer wins Nebraska GOP primary"