Though a Republican candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump has yet to lose a primary in the 2022 midterm election cycle, one Nebraska candidate expects to break the streak this coming Tuesday.
Jim Pillen, a Republican running in the Nebraska gubernatorial race, has attended nearly 400 events in all 93 Nebraska counties since starting his campaign and says he has received “amazing support every step of the way.” Although Pillen is not Trump’s preferred candidate, he has been endorsed by a line of top conservatives in the state, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, former Gov. Kay Orr, and “many thousands more,” he told the Washington Examiner.
“Here in Nebraska, we think for ourselves, care for our neighbors, and care about what our neighbors think,” Pillen said when asked if a Trump endorsement is important to a candidate’s victory. “The polling is clear: Republican voters are going to make up their own minds about who our Republican gubernatorial nominee is.”
Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent and hog producer, will be running against Trump-endorsed businessman Charles Herbster and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom in the primary election. He does not know if Trump would endorse him should he win Tuesday but says he is “completely focused on the work” needed to win.
Pillen said he has never met with or spoken to Trump but noted he did vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and is “thankful for all his administration accomplished for America.”
Ricketts cannot run again due to term limits. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Carol Blood and Roy Harris are running.
A polling memo released by Pillen’s campaign shows him with a slight but growing lead in the GOP primary race. The WPAi Intelligence survey, which has a margin of error of roughly 4.4 percentage points and was conducted by phone from April 30 to May 2, shows Pillen with 31% support, 4 points above the next closest candidate, Herbster. Prior polling released by Herbster’s and Lindstrom’s campaigns also showed a close race, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
If elected governor, Pillen said he plans to “keep Nebraska great for our kids” by shrinking the state’s government in addition to “better [controlling] government spending.” He also plans to give the state “transformational tax change,” especially for property taxes, and seeks “to preserve and defend the commonsense, Christian, conservative values” in the state.
Calling himself “the most conservative candidate in this race,” Pillen described his principles as being “backed by a lifetime of experience,” saying he is the only Nebraska candidate “to earn a living day in, day out in production agriculture” and the only candidate “who has built a Nebraska business creating thousands of good-paying Nebraska jobs.”
“My conservatism isn’t just my platform in this campaign — it’s the way I’ve built my business, raised my family, and lived my life,” Pillen said. “Voters are facing very clear choices in this race, both on Tuesday and in November.”