Ricketts sweeps to victory in Nebraska governor's race

Pete Ricketts speaks to supporters. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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November 5, 2014 - 1:09am

Republican Pete Ricketts swept to victory in Nebraska’s governor’s race Tuesday, and promised to begin work right away on challenges facing the state.


Video of Rickett's victory speech:

 

 

As soon as the first votes were counted, Ricketts jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back. He led Democrat Chuck Hassebrook by double digits, with Libertarian Mark Elworth Jr. bringing up the rear.

Addressing supporters at Lincoln’s Cornhusker Hotel, Ricketts said he looks forward to the challenges ahead. “It’s not a lot of rocket science, folks. We know that we have to have tax relief – especially property taxes. That we have to grow the economy, especially manufacturing and agriculture. And that we have to improve educational outcomes for all of our kids here in the state,” he said to applause.

Ricketts, who is 50, won in his second bid for political office, after having lost his first race to former U. S. Senator Ben Nelson in 2006. Ricketts is an Omaha investor and former executive at the online brokerage TD Ameritrade, which was founded by his father, Joe Ricketts. He is now on the board of the family-owned Chicago Cubs. He ran a race promising to apply his business background to running the state more efficiently.

Ricketts credited Hassebrook, a former University of Nebraska regent and director of the Center for Rural Affairs, with running a spirited campaign. After conceding the race, Hassebrook thanked supporters gathered at Omaha’s Ramada Plaza hotel, and credited his parents. “I have to tell you I’m thinking about them because this campaign reflected so much of what they have taught me about hard work, determination, compassion and fighting for the little guy. Thank you mom and dad,” Hassebrook said.

Back in Lincoln, Ricketts said he would draw on the experience of former Gov. Kay Orr, former governor and now U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, and incumbent Dave Heineman to work on his transition.

Ricketts said he talked Tuesday night with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who used to head that state’s Department of Health and Hospitals, and was assistant secretary of HHS at the federal level. “He (Jindal) was going to be thinking of some names of people that I could tap into to be able to broaden that network, and that’s how we’ll leverage some of the other state governors,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts said he would ask a wide range of people for help. “I want to work with you, and folks all across the state, and the folks in our Unicameral – each and every one of them -- to put those plans together for how we grow Nebraska,” he said..

Nebraska Republican Party Chairman J.L. Spray credited Gov. Heineman with having tightened the state’s budgetary belt during tough times. But Spray predicted a different emphasis under Ricketts. “We’re due for a stylistic change. We’ve gone through a recession. We’ve fared it really well. And what I like to say is, ‘We’re going to let the belt out a little bit, but we’re going to do it carefully,’” Spray said.

Ricketts said he’ll get right to work on the transition.

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