United States Senate elections in Nebraska, 2012

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2012 U.S. Senate Elections in Nebraska

CandidatesPollsElection History

November 6 Election Winner:
Deb Fischer Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Ben Nelson Democratic Party
Ben Nelson.jpg

Cook Political Report Race Rating
     Likely R (Prior to election)

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2012 U.S. House Elections

Flag of Nebraska.png
Voters in Nebraska will elect one member to the U.S. Senate in the November 6, 2012 elections.

The signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run is March 1, 2012. The primary elections will be held on May 15, 2012.

The election will fill the Class 1 Senate seat, which is currently held by Ben Nelson (D). First elected in 2000, Nelson will not run for re-election in 2012.[1]


Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Note: Chuck Hassebrook withdrew from the primary on March 8, 2012

Republican Party Republican primary

Independent Third party


Personal finances

Media reports in January 2012 regard two candidates in the Republican primary -- Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning -- centered around their personal finances. Stenberg has criticized Bruning for becoming wealthy while in office as attorney general. Reports indicated that Stenberg -- the Nebraska state Treasurer -- is also a millionaire, but he says he earned his money in the private sector before taking office.[9]

Ballot Issues

In late March, the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed the Republican Party's case to remove Senate contender Bob Kerrey (D) from the May 15 primary election ballot, paving the way for a big-money, high-stakes battle that could conceivably alter the balance of power in Washington.[10]

Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale (R) had expressed misgivings about whether Kerrey, a former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator, had established residency at the time of filing, but ultimately ruled that the U.S. Constitution protected his status as a candidate in the race to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D).[10]

State Republicans asked the courts to overturn Gale's decision, claiming that Kerrey had resorted to the "New York-style political trick" of filing at the eleventh hour to avoid scrutiny from election officials, but the judges ruled that they had no authority to grant relief.[10]

The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld District Court Judge Steven Burns' decision that there was "no evidence to suggest that Mr. Kerrey knowingly and willfully violated any laws of the state of Nebraska."[10]

Race rating

Cook Political Report

Each month the Cook Political Report releases race ratings for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House (competitive only) and Governors. There are seven possible designations: [11]

     Solid Democratic
     Likely Democratic
     Lean Democratic


     Lean Republican
     Likely Republican
     Solid Republican

Cook Political Report Race Rating -- Nebraska Senate
Month Rating
March 22, 2012[12]     
March 1, 2012[13]     
January 26, 2012[14]     
December 22, 2011[15]     
December 1, 2011[16]     

Election history


On November 4, 2008, Mike Johanns was elected to the United States Senate. He defeated Scott Kleeb (D), Kelly Renee Rosberg (Nebraska), and Steve Larrick (Green).[17]

United States Senate Nebraska General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMike Johanns 57.5% 455,854
     Democratic Scott Kleeb 40.1% 317,456
     Nebraska Kelly Renee Rosberg 1.4% 11,438
     Green Steven R. Larrick 1% 7,763
Total Votes 792,511


On November 7, 2006, Ben Nelson was re-elected to the United States Senate for a second term. He defeated Pete Ricketts (R). [18]

United States Senate Nebraska General Election, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBen Nelson Incumbent 63.9% 378,388
     Republican Pete Ricketts 36.1% 213,928
Total Votes 592,316

See also


  1. New York Times "Nelson to Quit the Senate, Giving G.O.P. an Advantage," Accessed January 6, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Nebraska Secretary of State "Official Candidate List," Accessed February 2, 2012
  3. Omaha World-Herald "Bruning makes Senate bid official," Accessed January 6, 2012
  4. Omaha World-Herald "Fischer kicks off U.S. Senate bid," Accessed January 6, 2012
  5. Lincoln Journal Star "Pat Flynn launches GOP Senate campaign," Accessed January 6, 2012
  6. Roll Call "Nebraska Treasurer to Enter GOP Senate Primary," Accessed January 6, 2012
  7. Lincoln Journal Star "Republican Senate field becoming crowded," Accessed January 6, 2012
  8. Russell Anderson campaign website Accessed January 21, 2012
  9. Watchdog.org "Exclusive: Bruning not only millionaire in U.S. Senate race," January 28, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Lincoln Journal Star "Supreme Court dismisses Kerrey case" March 28, 2012
  11. Cook Political Report "Our Accuracy," Accessed December 12, 2011
  12. Cook Political Report "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 22, 2012
  13. Cook Political Report "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 1, 2012
  14. Cook Political Report "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," January 26, 2012
  15. Cook Political Report "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 27, 2011
  16. Cook Political Report "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 1, 2011
  17. U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008"
  18. U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006"