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Nebraska’s Tight Governor’s Race Shaken by Sexual Assault Allegations

May 5, 2022 by Brock Blasdell
Nebraska’s Tight Governor’s Race Shaken  by Sexual Assault Allegations
Charles Herbster

LINCOLN, Neb. — Charles Herbster, Jim Pillen and Brett Lindstrom are polling neck-and-neck in the crowded field of Republican candidates as they head into their final week of campaigning before Nebraska’s highly anticipated May 10 primary for governor.

Each represents a unique sector of conservative politics, and whoever among them succeeds in garnering the Republican nomination for governor could become an example for GOP candidates heading into 2022 and beyond. 

Herbster, who was endorsed by Trump in 2021, was leading in third party polls earlier in April but recently publicized sexual assault allegations from GOP Senator Julie Slama and others have rocked his campaign, allowing Nebraska’s serving State Sen. Lindstrom to take a small lead, with Pillen following in third place.

Jim Pillen

A Neilan Strategy Group polling report taken between April 19-20 found Lindstrom to be leading the trio with 28% of the vote. Herbster followed close behind with 26%, and Pillen sat at the rear with 24% of the vote.

With 16% of their respondents remaining undecided, the race is still anyone’s game. 

Pillen, a veterinarian and business owner, received his own vow of support from sitting Gov. Ricketts in January 2022. He has since run a strong anti-Biden campaign that has pushed against critical race theory in schools, against abortion, and supported expanding broadband infrastructure and public safety programs for Nebraska. 

Lindstrom, a former University of Nebraska Cornhusker and self-described fiscal conservative, has done well with voters by rallying for broad tax cuts and the deregulation of small businesses. He joins Pillen in his push for broadband investment across Nebraska, and in his anti-abortion sentiments. 

Brett Lindstrom

Hebster, an owner of multiple businesses and perhaps the most aligned with former President Trump’s policies and speech, has most notably rallied for a “Nebraska First” tax rehaul in addition to state election reform. He joins Pillen and Lindstrom in his anti-abortion policies and the trio’s shared concern for protecting the 2nd Amendment, but faces perhaps the biggest hurdle of the three candidates to this day — the assault allegations. 

Herbster denounced the eight separate sexual harrasment allegations against him as “libelous fake news” and an attempt by Ricketts and Pillen to sabotage his once leading campaign with a “dirty political trick.” 

“It’s only after I’ve threatened the stranglehold the establishment has on this state do they stoop to lies this large,” Herbster wrote in a public release published April 14. “This story is a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick being carried out by Pete Ricketts and Jim Pillen.” 

In a public response, Ricketts said Herbster should “seek help.”

The controversy could come to define the upcoming election in November. With Nebraska’s sitting governor being forced out by term limits, whoever wins the primary will most likely take over the historically red state moving forward.

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