Cornhuskers Could Have Competitive Race

By John Celock

A poll released last week, on behalf of the Democrats, shows the possibility of a competitive gubernatorial race shaping up in Nebraska

A Public Policy Polling poll shows that Republican Pete Ricketts leads Democrat Chuck Hassebrook by only four points in the open seat race. The pair are seeking to succeed term-limited Gov. Dave Heineman (R).

Ricketts, a businessman, holds only a 42 percent to 38 percent lead over Hassebrook, a former University of Nebraska regent, with Libertarian nominee Mark Elworth polling at eight percent. The poll comes as Democrats have not won a gubernatorial election in Nebraska in two decades.

Ricketts, the former chief operating office of Ameritrade and a 2006 U.S. Senate candidate, won the GOP nomination in an upset over party favorite, three-term state Attorney General Jon Bruning, earlier this year. Bruning, who was upset in a 2012 U.S. Senate primary, had been backed by Heineman in the primary.

Ricketts has been moving to consolidate party support behind him in the general election. Earlier this month he tapped Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann (R) as his running mate for lieutenant governor. Heidemann, a former state senator, was appointed to the lieutenant governorship last year by Heineman following the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy (R). Hassebrook has not tapped a lieutenant governor running mate.

The Nebraska governor’s race has been in flux since Sheehy’s resignation last year after it was discovered that he used his state issued cell phone to make over 2000 phone calls to four women who were not his wife. Sheehy had been appointed to the lieutenant governorship by Heineman in 2005 after Heineman succeeded to the governorship.