Deb Fischer

It was a stunning surprise.  Yet in hindsight, the Deb Fischer for U.S. Senate campaign was one of the best-executed campaigns in recent history.  With few staffers and less than $400,000 to spend in the GOP primary, TSG Senior Associate, Aaron Trost, masterfully laid the groundwork for Fischer to cruise up the middle and win against two better-known and better-funded statewide elected officials.  This incredible victory was achieved by relying on classic retail politics, strong messaging, and well-constructed and well-timed mail, television and radio advertising to propel Fischer to victory.

Fischer’s biggest challenge was that she was a state senator from rural Nebraska with little statewide name ID, little money and little outside support.  She was facing two statewide officials who had spent years building up their volunteer bases and fundraising networks.  As “establishment” Republicans gravitated toward Bruning and national conservative leaders fell in behind Stenberg, Fischer was left to build her base the old fashioned way – one VFW hall and storefront at a time.

As the race became ugly between the two leading candidates, Trost saw and seized the chance to position Fischer as the warm, practical, genuinely conservative, “comfortable” choice for voters.  He and the TSG creative team played up her rural background, knowing that Nebraska’s agricultural base turns out in greater numbers than voters in the metro areas.  In the end, this strategy worked and Fischer surged in the final two weeks, winning the three-way primary with more than 40% of the vote.

In the general election, with the help of Trost and the TSG team, Fischer went on to defeat former Governor, Senator and Presidential candidate, Bob Kerrey, by 16.4% — handing the GOP its only Senate pickup of the 2012 cycle.