Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts narrowly won Nebraska’s Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, putting him on track to become the Cornhusker State’s next chief executive.
Ricketts won 26 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press, which called the race early Wednesday morning, with state Attorney General Jon Bruning close behind with 25 percent in the winner-take-all contest. State legislator Beau McCoy trailed with 21 percent and state Auditor Mike Foley had 19 percent, while two other candidates split the remainder of the GOP vote.
With that, Ricketts cleared the biggest hurdle between him and the governorship by just over 2,000 votes. Nebraska has not elected a Democrat to its highest office since 1994. Ricketts will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, in the general election.
Tuesday’s win offers a shot at political redemption for Ricketts, the former TD Ameritrade executive who lost the state’s 2006 Senate race to Democrat Ben Nelson by 29 percentage points. It’s also the second time in two years that the Ricketts family has derailed Bruning’s political ambitions. Bruning ran for Nebraska’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2012, but a wave of attack ads from outside groups — including one established and funded by Ricketts’s father — helped sink Bruning’s candidacy.
That same family wealth attracted outsize attention to the governor’s race from 2016 Republican presidential contenders. The younger Ricketts was endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Vice President (and Nebraska native) Dick Cheney also endorsed Ricketts.
Bruning’s late entry to the race in February put two heavyweights in the gubernatorial contest, and polls showed him and Ricketts running neck-and-neck heading into the final days of the primary. Ricketts benefited from a cash advantage that allowed him to blanket the airwaves with TV ads, and he got a boost from a handful of outside groups that ran TV ads attacking Bruning. The primary marked the first time such groups have made a major play in a Nebraska governor’s race, and Bruning blamed Ricketts for their involvement.
What We're Following See More »
"Sen. Lindsay Graham said he is '100 percent behind' embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and said there would be 'holy hell to pay' if President Donald Trump fires him. Graham also said that if the president went after special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who’s directing the investigation into possible contacts between Trump’s circle and Russia, that could be the 'beginning of the end of the Trump presidency, unless Mueller did something wrong.'"
"With little pomp or circumstance, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped up to the briefing room podium and got straight to business Friday, reading announcements about "Made in America Week" and a new executive order on defense. Minutes later, newly minted communications director Anthony Scaramucci announced she was formally taking over as White House press secretary. In the aftermath of a chaotic communications staff shakeup at the White House last week, there was little attention paid to a new milestone as Sanders assumed the role."
"The highest ranking military officer in the country said that the military’s transgender policy won’t actively change until President Trump sends specific directions to the Pentagon. 'There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,' Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in a letter."
"A long-simmering feud between two of President Trump’s top advisers reached a boiling point Thursday, as White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci publicly insinuated that chief of staff Reince Priebus is a leaker."