Due to the limited number of contentious races, Indiana and Nebraska have been combined into a single article. Primary elections are more important than general, which is why the governor’s race for Nebraska is of great importance. We saw for the past two years the power governors can exert over their states and their ability to enact change across America. Not every governor is Ron DeSantis, but DeSantis begs the question why he is a minority amongst twenty-eight Republican governors. Additionally, there is one flappable seat between these two states for the GOP to retake the house.
Replacing Governor Pete Ricketts
On a national state, outgoing Governor Ricketts has gone unnoticed in his performance. A state like Nebraska should be more conservative than Florida on paper, especially as it lacks national attention, but sadly few ever hear of the bills coming out of Lincoln. For the grassroots, this primary is an opportunity for a strong leader to be selected who act boldly on core issues of conservatism.
Being the favorite in this race and boasting the endorsement of Donald Trump is Charles Herbster, an agricultural billionaire who sells bull semen (not a joke). So the question reasonably becomes, is this a good endorsement from Trump? On his website, he boasts a pro-life, small government, and pro-Second Amendment platform while touting his private sector success. Practically the entire GOP on a national level is backing Herbster, from CPAC to Kristi Noem, to Rand Paul. In sifting through his Twitter feed to gather insight into his soul, he tweeted out the following on January 18th:
It’s disappointing to me that Gov. Ricketts is supporting a candidate who has a weak record on illegal immigration, failed to stop CRT from seeping into our universities and then voted to fund it with taxpayer dollars, and admitted to polluting our most precious resource, water.
The willingness to take a shot at the sitting republican governor is desirable in a candidate running for governor rather than a “Magic R” reverence too often seen. Otherwise, he is friendly with the establishment and conservative types online. One thing I found problematic was his support for RINO Rep. Don Bacon (more on him later) during the 2020 cycle. Historically, Ricketts and Herbster have been rivals within Nebraska politics, backing opposing candidates in various races over the years, including Ricketts’s own run. Whether their beef is ideological or personal is unclear. There is a site called CancelHerbster, which while suspicious and lacking any links to its claims, suggests that Herbster is unvaccinated and against masking. If true, these are positives. With Trump’s endorsement, I imagine Herbster will clean up the primary and that would be an improvement from Ricketts, but it would be a surprising if the billionaire had zero scandals.
Chosen by Pete Ricketts is Jim Pillen, professional hog farmer who prides himself as a Christian Conservative. Pillen is on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, which is basically their board of directors. Though he is publicly opposed to these policies, UNL implemented a jab or be tested requirement for students along with indoor mask mandates. He contends that he is opposed CRT yet is involved with the Board of Regents. Even though he is a minority on the board, I question whether he should have resigned from this in protest. On the issue of the Omaha Fairness Ordinance, which is their Equality Act, Pillen has been active opposing it at the grassroots level. Billionaire squabbling aside, Pillen looks like a 2016 Ted Cruz to Herbster’s Trump, only he lacks a political record. This might make him a better candidate, but whether he can play politics is a mystery.
The last major candidate in this race is State Senator Brett Lindstrom. Lindstrom prides himself as a fiscal conservative who has brought about tax reform in the legislature. Unlike his peers, he is on record voting for pro-life legislation, particularly a trigger law which would go into effect in the overturn of Roe, but there is little focus on fiscal conservatism with his campaign. On any culture issues, he is probably the weakest of the three candidates.
Let Bacon Fry
Representing the First Congressional District is Donald Bacon, a terrible congressman with a 52% Liberty Score. In addition to voting for Vaccine Databases via HR 550, he was amongst the Republicans who saved Biden’s Build Back Better agenda in 2021—the same bill that would have failed in the house had several RINO’s not voted in favor of it. Should Kyle Kuehl fail to upset him in a primary, this is a republican conservatives should wholesale reject in a general election.
Indiana 1st District: Potential Flip
Most prominently attempting to unseat Democrat Frank J. Mrvan in what is a Dems +7 seat is Air Force Veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green. Green seems to be the clear alternative from a funding standpoint, as there are no other competitors with reported funding as of 12/31. Surprisingly Mrvan was relatively low in funding for an incumbent, according to the FEC. This detail makes him even more vulnerable. In a minority heavy district (roughly a third), she is black, which probably helps and will attract the fawning of BoomerCons. Though Green has some media exposure writing an Op Ed for the Washington Times, she is a rookie in every sense of the word when it comes to politics for there is no record to draw from. She has no career outside of the military. She is A smart political party would flood her campaign with millions as this is a winnable seat going into November.
As an aside, the Indiana Republicans failed to properly draw these seats as every other Republican seat is a +20 advantage. At the very least, this should be an even seat, so shame on the legislators.