(CNN) – In Nebraska, Republican state Rep. Deb Fischer defeated former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey to win a U.S. Senate seat, according to a CNN projection.
Fischer led 58% to 42%, with 82 percent of the estimated vote total, when the projection was made. She will fill the seat currently occupied by retiring two-term Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.
Republicans argued that Kerrey, once a popular governor and two-term senator, lost touch with the conservative state after spending years living in liberal New York City, where he worked as president of the New School. The conservative super PAC American Crossroads began running ads against Kerrey even before he launched his campaign.
For his part, Kerrey tried to overcome the state's GOP tilt in a presidential election year by stressing his commitment to entitlement reform, a balanced budget, and other conservative fiscal issues. He also won a surprise late endorsement from former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, considered by many to be a GOP renegade.
Republicans began eyeing Nelson's seat even before he announced his retirement. Fischer surprised GOP leaders by squeezing out a primary win over two opponents considered stronger at the start of the year.