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Nebraska Primary 2012 Results LIVE: Ron Paul is Over, Deb Fischer Wins in Ben Nelson Senate Seat Battle

Nebraska voters head to the polls on Tuesday in a race that has national implications, especially on the congressional level.

A crowded field is vying for the open Senate seat on Democrat Ben Nelson, who recently announced his retirement.

35 delegates will be at stake in Nebraska.

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time.

PolicyMic will be following the coverage LIVE.

Updates Wednesday 9 am: Only about one-tenth of the money spent in Tuesday’s Nebraska GOP Senate primary was spent on Deb Fischer’s behalf.

Yet the little-known state senator emerged victorious over both the establishment-favored candidate and a favorite of the tea party — both of whom, we should note, are statewide elected officials.

Nebraska Republicans, knowing they needed to find someone to go toe-to-toe with Kerrey in November, could have opted for one of two statewide office holders Attorney General Jon Bruning or Treasurer Don Stenberg, both of whom were better funded and better known.

Instead, they chose Deb Fischer, a ranch owner who was elected to the Legislature in 2004 and whose major push didn't come until days before Tuesday's primary. That's when she landed the endorsement of 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain and received a $200,000 ad blitz from a super political action committee bankrolled by TD Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts.

7:30 am George W Bush endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday on an elevator saying “I’m for Mitt Romney” as the doors closed. Regardless of how/where Bush 43 endorsed Romney, don’t expect to see Bush out on the campaign trail for him the way Clinton was for Obama in 2008 (and will be in 2012).

Tuesday 11:50 pm Ron Paul Mostly Finished: Acknowledging that Mitt Romney is in a strong position to win the Republican nomination, Ron Paul campaign Chair Jesse Benton said Tuesday that Paul's famously loyal and enthusiastic fan base will be represented at the Tampa convention by the hundreds, with "a very, very strong message that we're here," but in a way that's "respectful."

"We're going to respectfully show that our people are here and we're the way to the future, and we're here to work with people, we're here to play ball, and we believe in very, very specific things," Benton said in a conference call with reporters. "And we're going to continue to fight for ideas. And moving forward, we're going to continue to become an even stronger voice in the party." At the convention, he said, "We're emphasizing decorum."

Another goal, he said, is to arrive in Tampa with as many delegates as possible to influence the debate and to "vote on party rules and allow us to shape the process for future liberty candidates." As National Journal/CBS News reported last week, the Texas congressman's campaign is paving the way for his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to take over the libertarian reigns and in a possible 2016 presidential bid.

11:20 pm AP says Deb Fischer will face Bob Kerrey in November.

11:10 pm U.S. Senate (Republican) FISCHER - 40%, BRUNING - 36% (About 70% of precincts reporting)

Attorney General Jon Bruning, the heavy GOP favorite for more than a year in the campaign to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, is in danger of being edged out at the finish line by state Sen. Deb Fischer. 

A confluence of high-profile endorsements and a withering anti-Bruning attack ad has resulted in a late surge for Fischer, who was an afterthought in the primary battle just over a week ago.

10:50 pm: Fischer leads Bruning by 731 votes, according to latest numbers on Neb. Secretary of State's website

10:45 pm: GOP Senate Race Update: Fischer takes the lead for the first time tonight -- Fischer with 38.01%, Bruning with 37.62%

Romney Dominates in Nebraska: The race was a foregone conclusion, with Romney dominating the delegate chase and Paul signaling that he was suspending further campaign expenditures earlier this week. 

Paul's campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, acknowledged during a conference call Tuesday Romney "has what is very likely to be an insurmountable delegate lead.”

Romney should take the vast majority of the state's 35 delegates. Romney headed into the night with 973 of the 1,144 delegates needed to formally clinch the nomination according to a projection from the Associated Press. Coupled with an expected win in Oregon — which awards 28 delegates Tuesday — Romney seems poised to wrap up the nomination before Texas votes at the end of the month.

Romney did campaign in the state ahead of the primary, however, with a fundraiser and public speech in Omaha last Thursday. According to the presumptive Republican nominee, the event with state officials was the "most successful fundraising event in the history of Nebraska."

10:35 pm: U.S. Senate (Republican) BRUNING - 39%, FISCHER - 37% (580/1785 precincts reporting)

10:18 pm: GOP Senate Primary Race: Bruning's lead expands a bit.. , he has 39.69% to Fischer's 34.54%.. Stenberg 21.47%

10:17 pm National Support For Romeny? We are beginning to see more national surveys now, including this week’s New York Times/CBS News poll, which show Mitt Romney with a slight lead over President Obama in the general election matchup. To be sure, there are also a number of polls that put Mr. Obama slightly ahead. But his lead does seem to have narrowed — from about three or four points in an average of national polls a month or two ago to more like a point or so in surveys today.

10:15 pm The Associated Press calls the Democratice race in District 2 for John Ewing Jr over Gwen Howard.

10 pm Race for Congress, District 2 stays much the same.. Terry 61%, Lindstrom 22.7%, Heidel 10.2%

9:45 pm Final Vote Tally: Romney with 34,547 votes (75%), Paul with 3,947 (9%)

GOP Senate Primary: Bruning - 38%, Fischer - 37% (170/1785 precincts reporting) 

9:17 pm Romney Wins! And with a VERY strong showing from Republican voters .. taking 75.74% of the vote.

9:15 pm Ron Paul Explains His New Strategy

According to CNN: Despite the announcement he will not channel campaign resources into upcoming primary states, Ron Paul is scheduled to make campaign stops and plans to build upon his delegate count, according to his campaign.

On Tuesday, Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said the Republican presidential candidate and Texas congressman is slated to speak at the Minnesota state convention this weekend and at the Texas convention in June, while also engaging in other speaking opportunities.

Although Paul has not suspended his campaign, Benton acknowledged Romney will likely capture the Republican nomination, but said it is still too early for a potential endorsement of the Massachusetts governor.

"At this point that's still premature because Dr. Paul is still a candidate," Benton said on a conference call with reporters. "I would never say never. I do not believe that that is likely, but you know we don't deal in absolutes and close everything out. Dr. Paul is willing to listen."

Benton said the Paul and Romney campaigns have participated in "a couple of conference calls," during which the Romney camp indicated they would consider some language representative of Paul's stances, including on reforms to the Federal Reserve, indefinite detention and internet freedom.

9 pm Polls Now Closed: According to the Omaha World-Herald former Sen. Bob Kerrey cruised to the Democratic nomination over four other candidates listed on the ballot. 

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry beat back two aggressive opponents to claim the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District. Terry will be seeking an eighth term and either State Sen. Gwen Howard or Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, who battled for the Democratic nomination. Ewing grabbed an early, but significant lead in the first results out of Douglas County.

6 pm: A dispatch from PolicyMic pundit Jeff Mezner: The polls opened for the primary election in Nebraska at 8 A.M. to good weather. This election cycle has been rather muted due to the Presidential Nominations generally being locked up and a lack of major ballot initiatives, but there is high interest in the Republican Senate nomination.

The focus of the presidential race has turned toward the general election in November. The likely Republican Nominee Mitt Romney should pick up most of the electoral votes here. The big question will be if President Barack Obama will get one Nebraska electoral vote, as he did during the 2008 election. Nebraska can split their electoral votes based on winning a Congressional District.

The most anticipated race will be for the Republican nominee for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Ben Nelson (D). The three frontrunners for the Republican nomination are State Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), State Treasurer Don Stenberg (R), and state Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE 43rd District). Bruning and Stenberg are among the most well-known politicians in the state, while Fischer is not.

Coming into this election, polling between Bruning and Fischer indicates the race is still a toss-up. Last week, Fischer picked up an endorsement by Sarah Palin, and Bruning was endorsed by Rick Santorum. 

The likely Democrat nominee for Senate is Bob Kerry. Kerry will bring an interest into the campaign as a historically popular Democrat having been elected as both the Governor and a U.S. Senator of Nebraska. Since that time, he served as the president of the New School in New York. It is still yet to be seen how this will affect his chances in November.

3:15 pm: Romney Won’t Win: It is mathematically impossible for Romney to hit 1,144 on Tuesday night. The earliest that can happen is May 29, when Texas holds its primary.

High Turnout Expected: In Nebraska, turnout will be driven at least to some degree by the senate primary. Nevertheless, strong turnout for either side in Nebraska will be likely be interpreted as a sign of enthusiasm about the general election in those states.

 

Background: The Nebraska Senate race will be a key race for Republicans and Democrats in the fall. Republicans view the state as one of their best chances to pick up a seat from Democrats

Republican and Democratic voters in Nebraska will both select their nominees for the race today.

Six Republicans are running for the office, including Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Senator Deb Fischer and State Treasurer Don Stenberg. Also on the list is Pat Flynn, Sharyn Elander and Spencer Zimmerman.

Recently Fischer, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, has emerged as a strong challenger. Bruning is still considered the likely nominee, but Republican officials say that a Fischer upset is not out of the realm of possibility.

For the Democrats, former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey is the frontrunner. He's running along with Chuck Hassebrook, Larry Marvin, Steven Lustgarten and Sherman Yates.

The Congressional seat for District 3 is also up for grabs today. There are two Republicans and one Democrat vying for the seat. Republicans are Adrian Smith, who is up for re-election and Bob Lingenfelter. The Democrat on the ticket is Mark Sullivan.

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