Pillen wins Nebraska governor primary, dealing blow to Trump
University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen was projected to win Nebraska’s Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, dealing a high-profile loss to former President Trump, who aggressively backed one of his rivals.
The Associated Press called the race at 11:23 p.m. ET.
Pillen came out ahead of eight other candidates running to replace Gov. Pete Ricketts (R).
The race was seen as the latest test for Trump, who had endorsed businessman Charles Herbster in the primary. Herbster is facing sexual misconduct allegations from eight women, including from state Sen. Julie Slama (R) and Elizabeth Todsen, who previously worked for state Sen. Dave Murman (R).
State Sen. Brett Lindstrom was also running in the primary as a moderate Republican, while Herbster and Pillen ran on a more hard-line brand of conservatism.
Pillen had been endorsed by Ricketts, who is term-limited.
According to the Nebraska Examiner, Pillen raised the most money from donors out of all of the GOP candidates.
But still, the primary field was essentially a three-way contest between Herbster, Pillen and Lindstrom until the end, with Trump putting some eleventh-hour muscle behind his chosen contender.
Trump appeared at a rally with Herbster earlier this month in a push to drag him across the finish line amid the growing furor over the sexual misconduct claims.
“Charles is a fine man, and he’s innocent of these despicable charges,” Trump said at the rally.
But in the end, it appeared that the sexual misconduct allegations and Ricketts’s support for Pillen proved too much for Herbster to overcome. Pillen now enters the general election as the overwhelming favorite in deep-red Nebraska.
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