September 19, 2014

Sec. of State Gale: Ricketts-Heidemann out, Ricketts-Foley in

Secretary of State John Gale has accepted Pete Ricketts’ request to drop Lavon Heidemann’s name from the Republican gubernatorial ticket and replace it with Mike Foley.

Ricketts replaced Heidemann with Foley after Heidemann resigned as lieutenant governor and withdrew as the lieutenant governor nominee. Heidemann made the decision after his sister received a protection order against him in wake of a heated family dispute. Foley is the state Auditor.

The Secretary of State’s office says Gale received Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann’s declination yesterday as the running mate in the Republican campaign for governor. He also received the filing of Foley.

Gale acknowledged that state statue sets a deadline of September 1 to remove candidates from the statewide ballot. Gale, though, said that it was his duty as chief election administrator to supervise the conduct of elections in the state to insure the accuracy of the ballot and prevent voter confusion.

“In addition, a gubernatorial candidate has the sole constitutional right to designate his or her running mate for the ballot. This constitutional right must be heavily weighed against any statutory deadline,” Gale said in a written statement released by his office.

The ballot for the November 4th election has yet to be certified. Gale reasoned that refusing to accept Ricketts’ request could be viewed as a direct violation of his constitutional right to choose a running mate.

“There is no issue of greater importance than ensuring the accurate reflection of candidates on the ballot,” Gale said. “And for that reason, I feel compelled to act.”

Ricketts chooses Foley to replace Heidemann on ticket (AUDIO)

GOP candidate for governor, Pete Ricketts, introduces state Auditor Mike Foley as his new running mate

GOP candidate for governor, Pete Ricketts, introduces state Auditor Mike Foley as his new running mate

Republican candidate for governor Pete Ricketts has chosen a veteran of state government as his new running mate.

Ricketts chose State Auditor Mike Foley to replace Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann, who withdrew from the ticket.

“Last night, I received a call from Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann, informing me that he was going to be resigning as lieutenant governor and withdrawing his candidacy from the campaign,” Ricketts said during a news conference at the Nebraska Republican Party headquarters in Lincoln. “I received the news with great sadness, as Lavon’s a friend. He’s been a dedicated public servant for over 10 years, serving with distinction and integrity and he has my gratitude.”

Heidemann announced this morning he had resigned as lieutenant governor and withdrawn from the Ricketts ticket. The decision came after a judge granted his sister a protection order against him, following a family dispute over his father’s estate and the medical treatment of his mother.

Ricketts moved quickly to replace Heidemann.

“Just a few months ago, Mike and I were competitors. Today, we’re teammates,” Ricketts announced, introducing Foley as his candidate for lieutenant governor.

Ricketts won the crowded Republican primary in which Foley was a contender. Foley finished fourth. Now, he is a candidate for Lt. Governor.

“This morning, I received a call from Pete Ricketts asking me if I would consider the possibility of running with him as his running mate for the position of lieutenant governor,” Foley stated. “I didn’t bat an eyelash. It was a great honor and a privilege to receive that phone call.”

Democrats criticized Ricketts for the way he handled the Lt. Gov. Heidemann controversy.

Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director Dan Marvin issued this written statement:

“Pete Ricketts has failed miserably and shown an extreme lack of leadership in his choice for Lt. Governor. Ricketts knew of these allegations in time to remove Heidemann’s name from the ballot and chose not to act until the domestic protection order was exposed to the public and Lavon Heidemann was forced to resign as current Lt. Governor. Husch Blackwell LLP, who serves as legal counsel for both the Ricketts campaign and Lavon Heidemann, received the petition to file a domestic protection order against the Lt. Governor on Aug, 27th, days before the deadline to pull his name from the ballot.”

Ricketts is running against Democrat Chuck Hassebrook to succeed Gov. Dave Heineman, who must leave office due to term limits.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

AUDIO:  GOP candidate for governor, Pete Ricketts, introduces State Auditor Mike Foley as his new running mate. [4 min.]

Political shakeup: Nebraska’s Lt. Gov. Heidemann quits

The following statement was just issued by the Governor’s office:

Today, Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann is resigning from the Office of Lt. Governor.

Heidemann offered the following statement at a news conference in the Governor’s Office this morning.

It has been overwhelming and humbling, all at the same time, to receive so much support and encouragement from people all across this state. It is the people who have worked with me, who know me best, and know my character that realize statements that have made about me are not who I am.

This has been a difficult situation, and after much thought, discussion and prayer, I have decided that for the good of my family, for the Office of Lt. Governor, and for the future of Nebraska, I am resigning today from the Office of Lt. Governor, as well as withdrawing as running mate for Pete Ricketts.

For the past 10 years, it has been an honor serving my constituents and the citizens of Nebraska. I am proud of what we have accomplished and grateful for the opportunity to serve Nebraskans.

I love this state and I am forever thankful for the people of this state who have faithfully supported me. I wish you well.

Gov. Dave Heineman made the following statement:

This is a sad day for the State of Nebraska. Lavon Heidemann has been an outstanding public official, both as a State Senator and Lt. Governor.

 He is very well respected in this State Capitol regardless of your party affiliation. However, circumstances changed yesterday when a judge issued a protection order. Last night, Lavon and his wife met with me in my office at approximately 9:30 p.m. He apologized for what occurred and told me he would be resigning.

 I have said many times that as public officials we are held to a higher standard of conduct and we should be. This is an unfortunate situation, but Lavon is doing what is appropriate by putting his family first and stepping down as Lt. Governor.

Heidemann was sworn into office on February 13, 2013. Heidemann is a farmer and livestock producer, and is a volunteer firefighter. He was elected to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents in 2012. Prior to his time as a Regent, Lt. Gov. Heidemann served as a State Senator for Legislative District 1 from 2005 to 2013. As a member of the Legislature, he served as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for six years.

Ricketts trying to “fully absorb” protection order against runningmate

Republican candidate for governor, Pete Ricketts, says he is trying to fully absorb all the information regarding the domestic violence protection order issued against his running mate.

The protection order against Lt. Gov. Lavon Heideman was issued by District Court Judge Daniel Bryan, Jr. after a hearing in Johnson County. Heideman is also Ricketts’ running mate.

Heideman’s sister, Lois Bohling of Elk Creek, filed for the protection order on August 27th. Bohling claims Heideman grabbed her wrist and screamed at her.

“This is a private, legal family matter regarding disagreements resulting from my dad’s estate, as well as the best possible medical treatment for my mom,” Heidemann said in a written statement released by his office. “I dispute much of my sister’s claims. My immediate family has great support from the rest of our family, our church and our friends – we appreciate that support so very much in this difficult time, as we work toward a full resolution.”

Ricketts issued a written statement:

“This is a very difficult time for the Heidemann family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they address this matter. At this time, we are trying to fully absorb all the information regarding the circumstances involved.”

Heidemann replaced Rick Sheehy as Lt. Governor under Gov. Dave Heineman.

Heineman demanded Sheehy resign after he made thousands of calls on his state-issued cell phone to four women, none of whom were his wife.

Heineman chose Heidemann, a former state senator from Elk Creek who served as Budget Committee chairman, and a University of Nebraska Regent to replace Sheehy. Ricketts then asked Heidemann to stay on if he is elected governor.

Heineman was out of the state on Monday, speaking at the 2014 Joint Conference of the Midwest US Japan Association meeting in Des Moines, IA.

Heineman’s spokeswoman, Jen Rae Wang, issued the following statement:

“The Governor is aware of the situation, and he is currently gathering and reviewing the facts. He is not going to rush to judgment on the Lt. Governor’s family situation. He recognizes this is a difficult and trying matter for the Lt. Governor and his family.”

Historic horse racing is history; Supreme Court keeps it off ballot

Historic horse racing will not make the ballot in November.

The State Supreme Court ruled the law passed by the legislature this year violated the constitution’s prohibition against containing more than one issue.

Gambling with the Good Life’s Pat Loontjer is overjoyed by the ruling.

“I think I cried my eyes out this morning. I am so happy. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. It is a miracle,” Loontjer tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “The campaign that we would have been up against, the lies that they were telling on Amendment One, and the money that they were going to spend; it is truly a miracle that we’ve been spared having this horrible amendment on the ballot.”

The law approved this past legislative session asked voters to approve historic horse racing at the state’s five horse tracks. It also contained language designating how revenue generated through betting on historic horse racing would be spent, including a promise of property tax reduction.

Supporters say historic horse racing would generate the new revenue needed to keep live horse racing viable in Nebraska. Under historic horse racing, past races are displayed on video machines with enough detail disguised to conceal the outcome.

Loontjer says supporters in the Unicameral went too far in trying to collect votes when they added provisions to cut property taxes.

“They got greedy knowing that they couldn’t get the votes if the honest question was answered and they really shot themselves in the foot by doing it,” according to Loontjer. “So, thank God the Supreme Court saw that.”

The case is Loontjer v. Gale.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.