Jim Pillen won the primary for the Republican nomination in Nebraska, beating Trump-backed candidate Charles Herbster and Brett Lindstrom.
Pillen, a businessman and University of Nebraska regent, had the backing of current Gov. Pete Ricketts and longtime Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. Herbster’s loss is Trump’s most significant endorsement loss since he left office and the first of 2022, though he also endorsed a congressional candidate in Texas who lost a 2021 race.
Trump’s picks swept the primaries last week in Ohio, but this week brought another test of his influence, with a candidate tainted by scandal.
Herbster had been accused of groping by multiple women, including two who have spoken openly about their experiences. He has fiercely denied the accusations, with his campaign manager telling The Nebraska Examiner, which he first reported on the accusations, that it was “a political coup based on 100% false and baseless claims.”
At a May 1 rally in Nebraska, Trump called Herbster a “good man.”
“He’s been heavily maligned, and it’s a shame,” Trump said of Herbster. “I defend people when I know they are good.”
On Tuesday night, Herbster called the campaign “one of the nastiest gubernatorial races in the state of Nebraska,” adding that “none of us wants to go home tonight knowing that could have played a very, very important in the results. Still, he called for the Republican Party to unify in the future.
“We have to try to unite the Republican Party in Nebraska. It’s going to take some work,” Herbster said. “We have to do that. It’s necessary. I’m going to the event tomorrow and I’ll have a chance to shake hands with Jim Pillen.”
Ricketts applauded Pillen’s victory in a statement, saying, “Jim is a true conservative who will bring his experience in the private sector to make government run more like a business. Nebraska families and farmers should consider themselves lucky to call him ‘Governor Pillen’ next January.”
Pillen focused on unity and the future in his victory speech Tuesday night, saying “we’re going to focus on what’s best for Nebraska.”
“We are going to invest the farm in our children so that all of our children know that the grass is greener in Nebraska,” he said. He also reaffirmed his desire to “end abortion in Nebraska” and spoke about wanting to focus on agriculture and education.
Pillen is the heavy favorite in November against Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood, who won her party’s nomination Tuesday night.
Trump watched another of his favorite candidates win on Tuesday. In West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, Trump-backed Republican Alex Mooney defeated fellow Republican David McKinley. The two congressmen were drawn to the same House seat after the state lost a congressional district following the 2020 Census.
McKinley, a six-term Republican congressman and seventh-generation West Virginian, was endorsed by popular Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. In an unusual development, one of the key issues was infrastructure spending, but in this case, the favored candidate was the one who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Mooney, and McKinley, who voted for the package, lost. Trump, who carried every county in the state in 2020, endorsed Mooney for that “no” vote.
McKinley said in a statement Tuesday night that he was “proud to have always stood up for what’s right for West Virginia, even when it hurt me politically,” alluding to his vote for infrastructure.
“The groundwork we have laid over the past twelve years has paved the way for a more prosperous and diverse West Virginia economy,” said McKinley.
David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth PAC, an outside Republican group that backed Mooney, said in a statement that Mooney’s victory “is a clear signal that Republicans want their members of Congress to be true conservatives rather than moderates.” RHINES”.
The starter vs. starter matchup between McKinley and Mooney is one of five this year.
In Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, the seat formerly held by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned in march after he was convicted of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation of a foreign national, State Senator Mike Flood won. Flood, who had three rivals, had been endorsed by Ricketts and former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman.
He is facing Democratic state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, who won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night. The two also compete in a separate race on June 28 to complete the remainder of Fortenberry’s term.