Pillen Wins GOP Governor’s Race; Other State Results

     University of Nebraska Regent and pig farmer Jim Pillen beat agribusinessman Charles Herbster and 7 other candidates for the Republican nomination for governor.

     With full numbers missing from only 31 or 1,323 precincts, Pillen has 33.1%, Herbster 30.39%, and State Senator Brett Lindstrom 25.93%. Former State Senator Theresa Thibodeau was the only other candidate with more than 2%, getting 6.13%

      Pillen was backed by millionaire term-limited Gov Pete Ricketts while Herbster, who spent over $11-million dollars of his own money, had the support of former president Donald Trump – who campaigned for him twice last week.

      Herbster kept Trump’s support after being accused of groping 8 young women, so his defeat is seen as a notable loss for Trump’s efforts to control and shape the future of the Republican party.

      Pillen will face Democratic State Senator Carol Blood in November. Blood claimed 88% of the vote against little-known Roy Harris, who did not actively campaign.

     The Democrats had no one file for the other constitutional offices, so the winners of the GOP primaries are virtual locks in November.

     Incumbent Secretary of State Bob Evnen won, but got less than 44% against Robert Borer and Rex Schroder, both of whom focused their campaigns on Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud 2 years ago. Borer drew 40% and Schroder 24%.

     Treasurer John Murante won with 57% of the vote against another little-known extreme conservative while State Senator Mike Hilgers claimed the nomination for attorney general 67-33% over non-lawyer Jennifer Hicks.

     Lt Governor Mike Foley’s bid for his old job as state auditor moved forward with a 73-37 victory over Larry Anderson  

     Gering businessman Kevin Stocker edged incumbent Mary Ridder for the Public Service Commission District 5 seat 43.5% to 40.64%. Dakota Delka got 15.9%.

      The Nebraska Republican Party hosts its customary General Election Kickoff this morning at party headquarters in Lincoln. It’s a show of solidarity with last night’s losers expected to throw their support behind the winners for the general election. 

     Only one of the 3 legislative districts covering the Panhandle is up for election this year, the 48th – Scottsbluff, Kimball, and Banner Counties – where incumbent John Stinner is term-limited.

      Five candidates filed to succeed him and the two advancing to November are conservative businessman Brian Hardin with 45% of the vote and 4th-generation Banner County farmer-rancher Don Lease II.

     Lease edged gun shop owner and former 2-term Scottsbluff city councilman Scott Shaver by 52 votes or 23.4% to 22.5%. 

      Elizabeth Tegtmeier dominated the race for State Board of Education District 7, amassing 62% to 20% for incumbent Robin Stevens and 17% for Pat Moore.

      State Senator Matt Williams edged conservative Kathy Wilmot in the University of Nebraska Board of Regents District 7 race 46% to 42% with Nolan Gurnsey at 12.5%.

     There were no upsets in Nebraska’s congressional primaries. 8-term 3rd District Republican Adrian Smith drew 76% of the vote against Mike Calhoun

     Smith will face Democrat David Else, who topped Daniel Wik 52-48% in a battle of candidates with little district-wide name recognition.

       2nd District incumbent Don Bacon got 77% over Steve Kuehl, who drew a casual endorsement from Donald Trump at his Nebraska rally a week ago Sunday.

      State Senator Tony Vargas had a surprisingly easy 69-31% win over 2020 senate candidate Alisha Shelton.

     In the 1st District, where incumbent Republican Jeff Fortenberry resigned after being convicted of lying to federal investigators, State Senator Mike Flood claimed 73% with Fortenberry 2nd at 12% despite dropping out after his resignation.

      Democrat and State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks did even better with 87% against virtual unknown and UNL student Jazari Kual Zakaria. 

     Flood and Pansing Brooks will square off both in November and in next month’s special election to fill out the remainder of Fortenberry’s term.