OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The move seemed more like a matter of time, and that time came Monday night as former President Donald Trump endorsed ag-businessman Charles Herbster to be Nebraska's next governor.
“It’s not really a surprising thing at all,” said Randall Adkins, a political science professor at UNO.
Herbster already touted being close to Trump, and was chair of Trump's agricultural committee in 2016. Plus, Herbster has added former Trump staff including Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway to the gubernatorial campaign.
With the primary still over six months away, political expert Randall Adkins, says it’ll likely fuel high-dollar campaign donations from the GOP elite.
“Those people that are Trump supporters will now see that they should give their money to Herbster. And those people who in the part of the party that not’s supporting the former president, they’re looking for other candidates to give their money to,” said Adkins.
One person who doesn’t support the endorsement is Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who’s term-limited.
In a statement, he says while he agrees with Trump on many issues, “I strongly disagree that Charles Herbster is qualified to be our next governor.”
“I do think Governor Ricketts really probably doesn’t want to be upstaged by the former president. I mean Governor Ricketts is the leader of the Republican Party in the state of Nebraska," said Adkins.
Later in the statement, Ricketts hit Herbster’s business, the Conklin Company based in Kansas City, and his support of the consumption tax, which would tax every purchase in the state.
Still, Herbster bit back, telling News Channel Nebraska Monday night in Sidney, "There's been a lot of pressure in the state of Nebraska for (Trump) not to get involved in the governor's race. A tremendous amount of pressure, monetarily and otherwise. I know it was a big decision for him to do this."
He went on to say Tuesday, in a statement, that the Ricketts family paid millions to beat Trump in 2016.
“Yet now, Governor Ricketts is personally attacking me and President Trump's endorsement," he said. "I will not get down in the gutter of petty politics and personal attacks.”
Ricketts has a history with Trump. In 2016, Trump sent a Tweet seemingly threatening the Ricketts family, after they supported other Republican presidential candidates.
But in 2020, Ricketts vocally supported Trump at rallies, including in Omaha in late October, before Trump went on.
“Donald Trump has been fighting for us, we need to fight for him,” said Ricketts in 2020.
Now the two seem to be at odds, at least on who should lead Nebraska next.
Ricketts hasn't formally endorsed any candidate for governor, but he's made appearances with NU Regent Jim Pillen, who's running for his job.
READ MORE ABOUT CHARLES HERBSTER: