LINCOLN — U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer on Friday said she has been a tax cutter in the Nebraska Legislature. She said new advertisements aired by one of her opponents, Attorney General Jon Bruning, mischaracterize her legislative record.
The Bruning ads criticize both Fischer, a state senator from Valentine, and State Treasurer Don Stenberg, the third major candidate vying for the Republican Senate nomination. The ads accuse Fischer of raising taxes with her 2008 bill to create a gasoline excise tax based on price, instead of volume, and for other votes that triggered gas tax increases by authorizing more highway construction.
She calls the Bruning ad disingenuous because, as a former state senator, he knows that under Nebraska's system, gas tax increases are triggered by consumption levels and the amounts budgeted for road construction. Public safety demanded additional money for highway construction because Nebraska had fallen behind, she said.
“It's very misleading to the public,” she said. “It's trying to oversimplify a unique and complex system. I'm disappointed that someone who should understand how the system works (would) act that way.”
The Bruning ad also criticizes Fischer for opposing a constitutional amendment that would have placed a limit on state spending. Fischer noted that the amendment would have forced an increase in local property taxes and was rejected by Nebraska voters.
Bruning's campaign manager, Trent Fellers, stood behind the ad.
“The ad is 100 percent factual,” Fellers said. “Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer have been attacking Jon Bruning for months, and this ad sets the record straight.”
Fischer has trailed Bruning in the polls and in fundraising. However, this week she nabbed a couple of high-profile endorsements — one from former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the other from U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.
She said the new ads demonstrate that Bruning is growing desperate.
“Mr. Bruning is sinking in the polls, and now he's resorting to last-minute attack ads to bring me down,” Fischer said.
Fellers said the Bruning campaign is “in great shape.” He called the support for Bruning “overwhelming.”
Fischer also defended her own ad, which includes two bulls with “Stenberg” and “Bruning” ear tags. It says it's time to end the “political bull.”
She described the ad as “cute” and as an example of Sand Hills humor.
Fellers called it negative campaigning.
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