May 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump pick for Nebraska governor loses GOP primary

Former President Donald Trump listens as Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster speaks during a rally at the I-80 Speedway on May 01.

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster and former President Trump during a rally in Greenwood, Neb. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Businessman Jim Pillen on Tuesday beat out a Trump-backed candidate to win the GOP nomination for Nebraska governor, according to AP.

Why it matters: The result marks the first time this year former President Trump's endorsement has failed to carry a candidate to victory in a GOP primary this cycle. He had endorsed businessman Charles Herbster.

  • Herbster's campaign was thrown into turmoil last month when eight women, including a Republican state senator, reportedly accused him of groping — allegations he denied.

Driving the news: Pillen had the crucial support of Gov. Pete Ricketts, himself a wealthy businessman who poured money into ads attacking Herbster.

  • In addition to Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) went to campaign for Herbster.
  • State Sen. Brett Lindstrom, a more moderate Republican, had support from the late Rep. Brad Ashford, the most recent Democrat to represent Nebraska in Congress.

The big picture: Trump has made dozens of endorsements against Republican incumbents and in open primaries as he tries to reshape the Republican Party in his image and cull dissent.

  • Trump also enjoyed a major victory when J.D. Vance surged to victory in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio after his endorsement.
  • The ex-president has staked his status as the GOP’s unquestioned leader on the power of his endorsement. His spokesperson told Axios in February his backing is “the most powerful and valuable asset in American politics.”
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