Ricketts endorses Pillen in race to succeed him as Nebraska governor

Greg Nash

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Nebraska State Sen. Breland Ridenour was the candidate who claimed that Gov. Pete Ricketts had unofficially backed Jim Pillen since the beginning of the race.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) said Tuesday that he was endorsing University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen (R) in the race to succeed him in the state’s highest office and would contribute to Pillen’s campaign.

“I believe in Jim,” Ricketts said during Pillen’s campaign launch on Tuesday, local ABC affiliate KETV reported.

The news comes after former President Trump in October declared his support for a different candidate in the gubernatorial race’s Republican primary field, Charles Herbster.

Herbster released a statement soon after the state’s current governor announced his support for Pillen.

“It is disappointing to me that Governor Ricketts is supporting a candidate who has a weak record on illegal immigration, who failed to stop Critical Race Theory from seeping into public universities and then voted to fund it with taxpayer dollars, and who has admitted to polluting our most precious resource, water,” Herbster said.

“Like all Nebraska governors, Pete Ricketts is limited to two terms. In the year he has left, Ricketts should focus on serving the needs of Nebraska, not hand-picking his successor. No politician should choose the next governor; the voters should,” he added.

“I respect many accomplishments President Trump had,” said Ricketts Tuesday, per KETV. “But on this issue we’re going to disagree. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this issue.”

Ricketts admitted last year that he asked Trump to not endorse anyone in this race prior to the former president announcing his endorsement of Herbster, according to the local affiliate.

Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, State Sen. Breland Ridenour, claimed that the governor had unofficially backed Pillen from the beginning of the race and suggested it had been a mistake for Ricketts not to meet with the others more before making his endorsement decision.

State Sen. Carol Blood, the only Democrat running for governor, also commented on Ricketts’s endorsement.

“It’s been clear since the beginning of Pillen’s campaign that he was Governor Ricketts choice of candidates,” Blood said. “It seems a waste of time for the members of Nebraska’s media to have a press conference on what’s already known to voters. It’s also odd that our Governor asks Trump to stay out of the Governors race and not endorse candidates, but he chooses to do the exact same thing. We’ve seen many candidates for the legislature endorsed by the Governor who have had little success in actually being elected. Our voters will let us know who are the best candidates, regardless of endorsements.”

— Updated Jan. 20 at 12:16 p.m.

Tags Charles Herbster Donald Trump Jim Pillen Nebraska Nebraska gubernatorial election Pete Ricketts Pete Ricketts Trump

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