Deb Fischer was born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., and now lives in Valentine. She earned a bachelor's at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
As a student, Fischer intended to study political science, continue to law school and then launch a career in politics. But she married in 1972 and moved to Valentine, not far from the border with South Dakota. She helped run the family ranch and raised three children.
Fischer served on the Valentine School Board from 1990 to 2004, and was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2004. She was elected to a second term in 2008.
Lawmakers of both parties describe her as a tough state legislator and an unwavering advocate for her district, which covers a vast area of north-central Nebraska. She was known for lining up numerous advocates to speak at hearings in favor of bills she supported. Some lawmakers dubbed the speakers "Fischer's army."
Fischer and her husband, Bruce, have three grown sons.
Months before the 2012 state primary, few Nebraskans had heard of Republican state Sen. Deb Fischer, but she quickly became known around the country after her surprisingly strong victory over two better-known and better-financed challengers, as well as two other lesser-known candidates.
She won the primary with 41 percent of the vote, about 5 percentage points ahead of second place finisher Jon Bruning, the state's attorney general. State Treasurer Don Stenberg was a distant third.
Fischer's victory was surprising because she was little known outside the Statehouse, where she was completing her second term. She lives in Valentine and represents a sprawling legislative district that takes in much of north-central Nebraska.
Bruning and Stenberg entered the race with strong name familiarity, both were well funded and each of them scored endorsements from tea party groups.
But Fischer campaigned relentlessly, especially in rural areas outside the population centers of Omaha and Lincoln. She often noted that she had put 45,000 miles on her car, driving from one small town to another.
"That's the kind of campaign you have to run in Nebraska," she said shortly before the primary. "You know, my legislative district is the size of New Jersey."
She also benefited from critical media coverage of Bruning and a late flurry of advertising from an independent political action committee that attacked the attorney general and praised Fischer.
In the days before the primary, Fischer garnered endorsements from former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.
She has emphasized her conservative positions, noting her opposition to abortion rights, her support of Second Amendment protections for gun ownership and her view that illegal immigrants shouldn't be given help to attend public colleges.
But most of her focus has been on reducing government spending and wiping out the federal deficit.
"Voters are fed up with what's going on in Washington," Fischer said on the night of the primary election. "They're fed up with out-of-control spending."
She has seemed eager to run against Democrat Bob Kerrey, who returned to Nebraska after a decade in New York. Before he left politics, Kerrey served as governor of Nebraska and in the U.S. Senate.
"It's a big race," Fischer said after her primary victory. "It's the focus of the entire nation. I image that things will get interesting."
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Deb Fischer is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 9, 2014.)