LINCOLN, Neb. (AP & KMTV) — Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen has scored a big endorsement from Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican who backed the University of Nebraska regent to be his successor.
Ricketts picked Pillen on Tuesday out of a crowded GOP field ahead of the party's primary election on May 10. Ricketts says he backed Pillen because of his conservative credentials and longstanding ties to Nebraska and agriculture.
Charles Herbster, who is running against Pillen for the Republican nomination, released a statement that read in part:
"It is disappointing to me that Governor Ricketts is supporting a candidate who has a weak record on illegal immigration, who failed to stop Critical Race Theory from seeping into public universities and then voted to fund it with taxpayer dollars, and who has admitted to polluting our most precious resource, water."
Democrat Sen. Carol Blood, who is also a gubernatorial candidate, also responded to the endorsement.
"It's been clear to all since the beginning of Pillen's campaign that he was Governor Rickett's choice of candidates. It seems a waste of time for the members of Nebraska's media to have a press conference on what's already known to voters. It's also odd that our Governor asks former President Trump to stay out of Nebraska's Governors' race, but then chooses to do the exact same thing," said Blood, in part of her emailed statement.
Pillen is a family farm owner and veterinarian who grew up in Nebraska, played football for the Huskers and now serves on the university's governing board. The endorsement comes less than three months after one of Pillen's competitors, Falls City agriculture businessman Charles Herbster, won support from former President Donald Trump.