Nebraska: Bob Kerrey Tries to Build Momentum Against the Odds

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted October 19, 2012 at 5:26pm

Updated: 8:00 p.m. | An internal poll released by the campaign of former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) showed him within 5 points of Republican nominee Deb Fischer for the open Nebraska Senate seat.

“Nebraskans are flocking toward Senator Kerrey because they like his plans to work across party lines and shake up Washington,” Kerrey spokesman Chris Triebsch said on the campaign’s website. “Likewise, the more Nebraskans learn about Deb Fischer, the less they like.”

The poll was the focus of a fundraising appeal, which featured Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Both men were Naval Officers for three years, served and were wounded in the Vietnam War and became Democratic Senators who made bids for the presidency.

The Fischer campaign cast doubt on the poll, which interviewed 600 likely voters over the phone between Oct. 14-16 and included calls to land lines and cellphones. The campaign cited a Politico story that ran at the beginning of the month about Kerrey pollster Harrison Hickman, who is said to have admitted under oath that he issued polls in the waning days of John Edwards’ 2008 presidential primary bid to make him seem more viable.

“Bob Kerrey released numbers from the very same disgraced pollster who recently admitted under oath that he cherry-picked numbers to boost John Edwards’ struggling presidential campaign. It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Fischer campaign spokesman Daniel Keylin in an email.

“This poll is a complete work of fiction that contradicts every public poll,” Keylin continued.

The poll comes after an Omaha World-Herald survey last month that had Fischer up by 16 points. That poll surveyed 800 registered voters. Other polls also have shown Fischer with a double-digit lead.

The Kerrey poll comes after he released an ad seeking to impugn Fischer’s character. “But the poll does not fully encompass the time period after an ad was launched,” according to the Kerrey campaign website.

The ad consists of three of Fischer’s neighbors discussing how the family sought acquire the land of Les and Betty Kime and ultimately sued for it, but lost in court. Both families were ranchers and the land was valuable for cattle grazing because it provided access to the Snake River, according to the ad.

Kimes, an elderly couple, accrued $40,000 in legal costs, the ad said.

“What the Fischers did to the Kimes just isn’t right,” says one neighbor in the ad.

Earlier this week, Fischer held a press conference with Republican Gov. David Heineman, who called the Kerrey ad a last-ditch effort.

“Bob Kerrey’s attacks are a desperate distraction by a desperate candidate who’s losing in the polls,” Heineman said in a Fischer campaign press release.

“Bob Kerrey’s attacks may be the way they do it in New York, but it’s not the Nebraska way, and that’s why Deb Fischer is going to win this race,” Heineman continued.

Kerrey served as president of the New School for Social Research in New York City for nine years, and the Fischer campaign has sought to paint Kerrey with a big city persona removed from the concerns of rural Nebraska.

At the press conference, Fischer made a pledge not to go negative.

“While negative character attacks are the center of Mr. Kerrey’s campaign, I will continue to travel across the state to listen to Nebraskans and discuss the important issues facing our country,” Fischer said in the release. “We are committed to campaigning the Nebraska Way.”

Updated: 8:00 p.m. | Later, her campaign responded with an ad of its own.