Watch: Trump's Man In Nebraska Loses Big Time

By Mark Gruber | Friday, 13 May 2022 05:15
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Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent, won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Nebraska even after former President Donald Trump praised one of his rivals, winning a crowded primary to replace Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term-limited.

The Republican field also included businessman Charles Herbster and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom. Pillen was backed by Ricketts as well as Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. Lindstrom campaigned as more of a centrist than his rivals.

The crowded and controversial primary race was rocked by allegations that Herbster, who Trump endorsed, groped at least eight women in recent years.

Herbster, who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Trump’s presidential campaigns, denied the allegations, even releasing an ad claiming one of the women who went public with the allegations conspired with his political rivals. He also compared himself to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, both accused of misconduct and denied the claims.

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At a Nebraska rally earlier this month, Trump said Herbster has been “badly maligned, and it’s a shame.”

“I really think he’s going to do just a fantastic job, and if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be here,” Trump said at the rally.

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Pillen will face Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood in November in the deep-red state. Nebraska has not had a Democratic governor since Ben Nelson left office in early 1999.

“This is beyond horrible,” said Ricketts, who has clashed publicly with Herbster. “Charles W. Herbster should beg forgiveness of the women he has preyed upon and seek treatment. Sexual assault is criminal behavior and should disqualify anyone from elected leadership.”

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The claims first appeared in the Nebraska Examiner. The online news outlet interviewed six women who claimed that the 67-year-old Herbster groped their buttocks outside of their clothes, during political events or beauty pageants. A seventh woman said Herbster once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly.

“It’s only after I’ve threatened the stranglehold the establishment has on this state (that) they stoop to lies this large,” Herbster said in a statement. “This story is a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick being carried out by Pete Ricketts and Jim Pillen.”

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John Gage, a spokesman for Pillen, called Herbster’s statement “unhinged.” And a spokeswoman for Ricketts referred back to his original statement, saying the women should be commended for coming forward. In a statement, Pillen said: “Sexually assaulting women should be disqualifying for anyone seeking to serve as a leader. Suzanne and I are praying for the women targeted by Charles W. Herbster.”

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