LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley split from Governor Pete Ricketts on Tuesday, endorsing businessman Charles Herbster to be Nebraska's next governor.
Ricketts endorsed hog farmer and NU Regent Jim Pillen earlier this year.
Pillen and Herbster, State Senator Brett Lindstrom and former State Senator Theresa Thibodeau are running in a crowded Republican primary.
Foley, an advocate for anti-abortion causes, says Herbster is the best candidate for anti-abortion voters across the state.
“I believe a vote for Charles Herbster is the best vote to advance the cause of life and to build a culture of life in Nebraska,” said Foley.
But the other leading candidate in the race, Pillen, believes there may be more to the story. He said in a statement that Foley asked to be Pillen’s Lieutenant Governor, but he declined.
“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,” said Pillen.
When asked, Foley denied he requested to be Pillen's lieutenant governor.
“The Pillen campaign and other campaigns have reached out to me and that’s fine. I’m flattered by that. And we’ve had conversations with other candidates and I’ve just decided Charles Herbster is the best choice and anything beyond that would be a mischaracterization of that arrangement,” said Foley.
The Pillen campaign also provided a document that shows the election results from the 2014 GOP primary in which Foley finished fourth with 19% of the vote. They say in the July 2021 meeting, Foley showed them that document and told them how he could bring Republican voters to Pillen’s side.
Foley, a former state senator and auditor, has filed to run for his old job as state auditor but he didn’t rule out coming back as lieutenant governor saying it’s a conversation for another day.
“If there’s some other area that I can be of service to him we can look at that at another time, but my number one job is to get Charles Herbster elected to the governor’s office,” said Foley.
The Nebraska Examiner asked Governor Ricketts what he made of the endorsement. He said Foley used poor judgment and went on to say that Herbster would be a terrible governor.
After four or five questions were asked by the news media, the press conference was stopped by Herbster’s staff and he did not take any questions.