Two major stories emanating from the 2022 Nebraska primaries are the gubernatorial and 1st congressional district races.
The current Nebraska governor is precluded from running again, which opened the field.
In the 1st congressional district, where U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) was forced to resign in March 2020 after a criminal conviction in which Fortenberry was found guilty for lying about illegal foreign campaign donations opened his congressional district race.
The republican governor’s primary featured 67-year-old Charles W. Herbster, a political outsider and major farming and agri-businessman. His campaign ignited with a Donald Trump-endorsement, who won Nebraska by nearly 60% in 2020.
Herbster then found himself engulfed in sexual accusations of groping and forcibly kissing multiple women, including an accusation by a GOP state lawmaker. All of the women accusing Herbster were in their late teens or early 20s.
The accusations upended Herbster’s gubernatorial campaign when reported in the local media. Witnesses verified the abuse to the press. The face-off in that crowded republican field had been between Herbster and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who had been endorsed by the republican establishment and the Farm Bureau.
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In the end, Pillen won – a blow to Trump’s endorsement of Herbster, who called the accusations “dirty politics.”
The spread between Pillen and Herbester was roughly 10,000 votes with Pillen garnering 34.2% and Herbster nearly 29.6%.
Pillen will face off with democratic primary winner Carole Blood in November.
Although U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned from office and ended his reelection bid after he was convicted, his name still appeared on the ballot for the 1st congressional district republican primary because he withdrew after a deadline to certify the ballot.
In the end, state Sen. Mike Flood, who was the choice of the state’s Republican establishment with endorsements from both current Gov. Pete Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman won. Flood will face off against Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood in November.
That November contest is seen as an easy win for Republicans.
Because of the unusual circumstances of Fortenberry’s district, there will be a special election on June 28 to fulfill his remaining tenure.
In the other two Nebraska congressional districts, republican incumbents won overwhelming in their own primary races surpassing their democratic opponents in their primary races.