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Ricketts endorses Jim Pillen to succeed him as next governor to take Nebraska 'to the next level'

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 18, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The endorsement that many political observers in Nebraska saw as inevitable, dropped Tuesday morning in Lincoln.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, who can’t run for re-election again due to term limits, gave his support to University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen in a press conference at the Nebraska Capitol.

Ricketts says the endorsement was earned because Pillen would work to lower taxes, control government spending, run the state like a business and promote conservative values.

All of those are platforms Ricketts ran on last decade.

“I want Nebraskans to know that this is the man that can take the foundations laid here in my administration and take it to the next level,” said Ricketts.

Pillen said Ricketts has encouraged him and others in the state to be active in government and get involved in local politics.

He believes Ricketts support moves the needle.

“Everybody in Nebraska is incredibly grateful of the incredible work Gov. Ricketts has done, his exceptional results and his exceptional leadership. So when I earn his support, that’s a big deal,” said Pillen.

This comes in contrast to a major endorsement top contender Charles Herbster got in the fall, when former President Donald Trump endorsed him.

Tuesday, the Herbster campaign said Ricketts should focus on governing, saying, "in the year he has left, Ricketts should focus on serving the needs of Nebraska, not hand-picking his successor. No politician should choose the next governor; the voters should.”

Other Republican challengers also chimed in. The Brett Lindstrom campaign pointed to Lindstrom's record of cutting taxes in the legislature saying “in this election, endorsements don’t matter — records do.”

Former state senator and current gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau said Pillen hasn’t done enough fighting against critical race theory.

“Jim Pillen has solidified his place as an unqualified candidate and ineffective elected official. Governor Ricketts' decision to endorse Jim Pillen is disappointing,” said Thibodeau.

Pillen and Ricketts got their message out today as they made stops in Kearney, North Platte and Norfolk as well as finishing up in Omaha.

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