Son of GOP Mega-Donor on Track to Become Nebraska’s Next Governor

The Ricketts’ family wealth attracted outsize attention to the governor’s race from 2016 Republican presidential contenders.

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial nominee Pete Ricketts
National Journal
Karyn Bruggeman
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Karyn Bruggeman
May 14, 2014, 2:53 a.m.

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 »
PLENTY OF MISTAKES IN COVERT TESTS
Report: U.S. Ill-Equipped to Detect Dirty Bomb
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

A DHS report "found gaping holes in domestic nuclear detection and defense capabilities and massive failures during covert testing." A team put in place to assess our readiness capabilities found significant issues in detecting dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials, failing to do so in 30 percent of covert tests conducted over the course of the year. In far too many cases, the person operating the detection device had no idea how to use it. And when the operator did get a hit, he or she relayed sensitive information over unsecured open radio channels."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
RESTROOM ISSUES RETURN
Trump To Rescind Trans Protections
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.

Source:
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
“HORRIBLE” AND “PAINFUL”
Trump Addresses Threats On Jewish Community Centers
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login