Nebraska GOP urges party to regroup after controversial primary

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — After months of battling each other, Republicans gathered in Lincoln on Wednesday in hopes of mending rifts within the party.

Columbus agribusinessman Jim Pillen wins the GOP nomination for governor. Trump-backed candidate Charles Herbster finished second and State Senator Brett Lindstrom finished third.

With all the bashing between Pillen, Herbster and outside money, how can those who lost let it go?

“This is probably one of the worst gubernatorial campaigns in the state of Nebraska,” Herbster said.

Charles Herbster did not hold back on election night. He previously sued state senator Julie Slama for defamation after she and seven other women said they were groped by him.

Herbster blames Gov. Pete Ricketts’ political machine for smearing him and the campaign.

“It’s sad. None of us want to go home tonight realizing that maybe that played a very big role in the results,” Herbster said.

Fast forward a few hours and there’s Charles Herbster at the Republican Party of Nebraska the headquarters and the establishment that he says hurt his chances of becoming governor are in the same room.

“It’s really important that we work hard to bring everyone together,” Pillen said.

After months of battling each other, Republicans gathered in Lincoln in hopes of mending the rifts within the party.

Governor Ricketts says the party must unite behind a common goal of beating the Democrats.

“I have been through a contested primary several times. It makes you a better candidate. Iron sharpens iron,” Ricketts said.

So how is it fixed?

“I honestly don’t think it is. This is the latest episode in a long machine of attacks on other Republicans by Pete Ricketts and his family,” said Omaha political consultant Ryan Horn.

“It’s May 11 and it’s time to come together,” said Dan Welch.

Republican Party Chairman Dan Welch believes the state’s GOP will eventually become one with some time to heal.

“What brings us together as a party is not the candidates, but our conservative ideology,” Welch said.

Candidate Brett Lindstrom sent his support to Jim Pillen last night.

For his part, the Nebraska Democratic Party attempts to capitalize on the split by saying “Republicans are deeply divided” after “tearing apart,” adding that Democrats are focused on issues that impact daily life in Nebraskas, including “defending the women’s access to legal abortion.

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Evelyn C. Tobin