Nebraska Primary Governor Race

Nebraska’s future is heavily dependent on the upcoming governor’s race. A governor is the head of the state executive branch, like the president, but of the state.

Our current governor, Pete Ricketts, son of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, was elected in 2014. The year of his election, he vetoed a bill that ended the death penalty in Nebraska, that veto was overridden by the unicameral. Determined to reinvigorate capital punishment, the governor financially contributed to a ballot initiative campaign to get the death penalty reinstated and was successful. Nebraska can now legally kill those on death row, but the chemical compound necessary to do so is still illegal in the United States.

On April 23rd, Ricketts vetoed a bill that would use private funds to finance mental health services in schools. Other major decisions by Ricketts include support of the Keystone XL pipeline, declaration of Nebraska as a “pro-life state,” and veto of a bill that would have immediately restored voting rights for people who have completed their felony convictions, instead of the current two-year wait period. The Ricketts family also holds personal ties with the current White House administration.

There are four others running for the governorship this year. Krystal Gabel will be running against Ricketts on the Republican ticket. Gabel is a staunch supporter of legalizing marijuana and industrial hemp as a means of boosting Nebraska’s economy. There are three people vying for the democratic slot in the general election: Vanessa Ward, Senator Bob Krist, and Tyler Davis.

Vanessa Ward of North Omaha, known by some as Apostle Ward, is the first Black woman to run for the governor’s seat in the state of Nebraska. Ward prides herself as a person of the people, having spent decades working in her community, advocating for education, violence prevention, and civic engagement.

Senator Bob Krist was formerly a registered republican, switched to independent, and is now registered as a democrat. Appointed to the unicameral in 2009, Krist represents the 10th Nebraska legislative district. Krist’s website says his key concerns are tax and prison reform.

Tyler Davis, teaches in the Emergency Services Program at UNO’s School of Public Administration. His platform focuses on education, criminal justice reform, and addressing homelessness across the state. The former Marine is currently seeking a PhD in the Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area (MSIA) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  

On May 15, citizens have the opportunity to choose which Republican or Democratic candidate will be on the November ballot. We invite you to visit or view our candidate directory on page 3 for website information on the many offices up for election.