- Numerous candidates are competing in the GOP primary in Nebraska’s governor’s race.
- Trump’s endorsed candidate Charlie Herbster faces sexual misconduct allegations.
- Polls are now closed in Nebraska. Follow along for results.
Polls are now closed across Nebraska. Follow along for results.
The race and the stakes:
Former President Donald Trump is at serious risk of seeing one of his hand-picked candidates fall in a contested Republican gubernatorial race that has turned on multiple sexual assault allegations against businessman Charles W. Herbster.
Trump endorsed Herbster over the repeated pleas of Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term-limited, to not back Herbster, one of Trump’s most loyal supporters.
As Politico noted, Herbster has supported Trump from the first moment of his presidential campaign — the 2015 descent down the Trump Tower’s golden escalator — all the way through January 6, when Herbster left the area outside of the US Capitol just hours before a violent insurrection began.
Despite Ricketts’ fierce opposition, Herbster appeared poised to become the Republican nominee for Nebraska governor. In a state as conservative as Nebraska, this would have made him the all but certain next governor.
But in mid-April, The Nebraska Examiner, a local non-profit news organization, published a report detailing how multiple women say Herbster had groped them. One woman, state Sen. Julie Slama, went on the record with her account.
Herbster has repeatedly and strongly denied these claims. His closing messages have sought to portray him alongside Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas as examples of other conservatives who faced similar allegations. Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, is from Nebraska.
Before the news, Herbster’s closest opponent appeared to be Jim Pillen, a member of the state Board of Regents, whom Ricketts endorsed. Herbster and Pillen tangled over critical race theory and other modern-day culture war topics as they struggled to distinguish themselves.
Jean Stothert, mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, threw her support behind state Sen. Brett Lindstrom — a sign of just how divided Republican loyalties are in the race.
There’s been scant independent polling of the contest.
On the Democratic side, state Sen. Carol Blood is expected to emerge as her party’s nominee. Roy A. Harris of Linwood is also on the ballot, but he hasn’t run a campaign anywhere near Blood’s level.
Regardless, Democrats face an enormous task in flipping the governorship. Nebraskans haven’t elected a new Democrat to the top job since Ben Nelson, who’d later become a US senator, won in 1990.
To give you a sense of how long that’s been: To give you a sense of how long that’s been: Nebraska Cornhuskers football coaching legend Tom Osborne, who would also go on to serve in Congress himself, had yet to win any of his three national titles, the first of which came in 1994.
Seats are also up for grabs in the nation’s only nonpartisan, single-house legislature — and the nation’s smallest in terms of membership.
The Nebraska Unicameral, which is effectively controlled by Republicans, has 24 of its 49 seats on the ballot this November. Republicans continue to hope that they can break what’s effectively been a Democratic filibuster there.
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