LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The race to replace Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts now has its first Democrat. State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue announced her bid Monday on the Capitol steps.
She said people are tired of the politics of “us versus them,” and that most would prefer a civic culture that listens to people and helps them “find common ground.”
Blood says she’s running to help Nebraska move beyond political polarization. She says our politics devote too much time to divisive issues that matter little to people’s lives.
“I decided I wanted to be the adult in the room,” she said, spurring cheers from a crowd of Democrats. "We can lead by example and expect that same from those we elect to office.”
Blood said she would rather focus on addressing property taxes, bridging economic gaps, boosting public education, improving public health and building infrastructure.
One area where she’d focus immediate attention, she said, is the state’s troubled child welfare system. She says it needs an honest accounting of privatization of social work and its costs.
“I know that when Nebraska stands together and we work on issues and conduct ourselves in ways that create change for the better, our lives do get better,” she said.
Three Republicans are already running in the 2022 race: Charles Herbster, an agribusinessman who breeds cattle in Falls City, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who runs a large hog operation in Columbus, and State Sen. Brett Lindstrom, an Omaha-area financial planner.
None of the announced candidates offered immediate comment on Blood’s announcement.
Former Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce president Bryan Slone also exploring possible runs in the Republican primary that in recent years has largely decided Nebraska’s race for the Governor’s Mansion.
Nebraska Democrats like Blood face an uphill battle. Republicans hold a registration advantage of more than 220,000 people. The last Democrat to win was Ben Nelson in 1994.
The tone of Blood’s announcement shows she aims to narrow the gap by appealing to the state’s roughly 260,000 registered nonpartisans, a growing bloc.
Bellevue-area spa owner Mary Macias-Cox, a constituent who helped introduce Blood and praised her work in the Nebraska Legislature, said Blood “believes in people and policy, not party and politics.” Blood said her goal is to move beyond political labels like “conservative, progressive, liberal and far-right” and get what people want done.
Blood, a former member of the Bellevue City Council, has the Nebraska Republican Party’s attention. They issued online attack ads against her about a half-hour before she announced. One ad criticizes her previous opposition to a bill restricting some abortions and quotes some of her comments from debate.
The state party issued a statement following Blood’s announcement. It describes her as out of step with her moderate Sarpy County district. And it hints at coming attacks on wedge issues like abortion, gun control, public safety and state answers to illegal immigration.
“Nebraskans can count on the NEGOP to expose her voting record in Lincoln, which is far out of step with our state’s values and principles,” it said.
Blood, asked about the ad and related online attacks, called them half-truths and lies. She said Nebraskans deserve better than the political parties slinging mud. She said she was “disappointed in the GOP,” because Monday showed her they’re “not going to talk about any real issues.”
“I’m not a sacrificial lamb, and nobody talked me into this,” she said. “We have good people on both sides of the aisle whose voices are never heard because they are deafened by the sound of hate and the sound of misinformation. Not everybody in either party is an extremist.”