Monday, September 17, 2012

`Rancher' occupation brings both pros, cons to Republican Deb Fischer's race for US Senate

So it's no surprise that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer's campaign ads show her leaning up against fence posts while she's described as a rancher who is "sharp as barb wire, tougher than a cedar fence post." Her opponent, Democrat Bob Kerrey, is a former governor and senator who for a decade was president of a university in New York. Fischer's campaign frequently emphasizes the contrast between their occupations, clearly betting that it will play well with Nebraska voters who have become more conservative and suspicious of government since Kerrey left the Senate in January 2001. But Democrats have worked to find a downside to the ranching life, and their campaign attacks have made the Nebraska race unlike any other this election season. In addition to health care reform and the economy, the staples of the 2012 campaign, the race has focused on agricultural "welfare" _ specifically the government arrangements that allow some ranchers to use federal land at below-market rates. Fischer's ranch in isolated north-central Nebraska, pays less than $5,000 a year to graze 1,000 cattle on about 11,000 acres of federal land. That's far less than the more than $110,000 the Fischers would have to pay a private landowner for those grazing privileges. In its attacks on Fischer, Democrats are attempting to show conservative voters that Republican candidates also can rely on government. But in picking on ranchers and their perks, they've chosen a tough target...more

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