Jim Pillen wins Nebraska GOP governor primary despite Trump endorsement of rival
Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent, won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Nebraska after former President Donald Trump endorsed one of his rivals, winning a crowded primary to replace Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term limited.
The Republican field also included businessman Charles Herbster and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom. Pillen was backed by Ricketts as well as Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. Lindstrom campaigned as more of a centrist than his rivals.
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The crowded and contentious primary race was rocked by allegations that Herbster, who was endorsed by Trump, groped at least eight women in recent years.
Herbster, who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Trump’s presidential campaigns, denied the allegations, even releasing an ad claiming one of the women who went public with the allegations conspired with his political rivals. He also compared himself to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were accused of misconduct and denied the claims.
At a Nebraska rally earlier this month, Trump said Herbster has been “badly maligned, and it’s a shame.”
“I really think he’s going to do just a fantastic job, and if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be here,” Trump said at the rally.
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Pillen will face Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood in November in the deep-red state. Nebraska has not had a Democratic governor since Ben Nelson left office in early 1999.