The war of words between the campaigns of the two leading Republican candidates to be the next governor of Nebraska intensified Tuesday when current Lt Gov Mike Foley endorsed agribusinessman and manufacturer Charles Herbster.
Foley, appointed Lt Gov in 2015 and then elected twice as Pete Ricketts’ running mate, told a rally “the choice was clear that Herbster is the person for the job,” calling him “a man of faith and conviction…a job creator who is rooted in our conservative values and will rely on those values when leading our great state.”
Rancher and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, Herbster’s top contender in the 5-way GOP primary, responded by saying the endorsement was “disappointing but not surprising” since Foley was “pretty unhappy when I turned down his request to be my lieutenant governor.
Pillen said he met with Foley for an hour in July of last year with Foley presenting the reasons he would be the best choice as running mate and giving him a printed checklist handout comparison that Pillen released to the public Tuesday.
Pillen also said “Herbster has always thrown his money around to buy political influence and favor. Nebraskans know what they want in a governor, and it is not backroom politics.”
Gov Ricketts has endorsed Pillen and again repeated his comment from earlier this year that Herbster would be “a terrible governor” – adding that he told Foley he was making a mistake and should rethink his choice, calling the endorsement “incredibly poor judgment.”
Ricketts also ramped up his criticism of Herbster, from the accusation that he puts the highest-paying jobs in his company in Missouri and Minnesota to Herbster’s history of late payment of personal and business property taxes.
Herbster told KMTV last year after the station released the story that he was trying to keep his company afloat, but Ricketts said “nobody believes” Herbster doesn’t have the money after giving millions of dollars in political donations and mostly self-funding his own campaign.
Ricketts, himself a multi-millionaire, said Herbster acts as if one set of rules applies to him and another set to everyone else.