Governor-elect Pete Ricketts says he’s honored to be elected governor and says the changes he made from his unsuccessful race for United States Senate in 2006 led him to victory in 2014.
“Couldn’t be more honored that the citizens of Nebraska selected me to lead this state,” Ricketts tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Pete Ricketts made quite a political turn-around.
Ricketts lost badly to Democrat Ben Nelson in 2006, receiving just under 214,000 votes to Nelson’s nearly 380,000.
Despite the loss, Ricketts kept involved in state Republican Party politics. He served as National Committeeman from 2007 to 2012, staying engaged with Nebraska Republicans, listening to Nebraska voters.
Ricketts ditched the Washington, D.C. consultants who advised him in 2006 and, instead, recruited a team with close ties to Nebraska for his 2014 campaign. He pivoted on financing. In 2006, Ricketts used his wealth as a former TD Ameritrade executive to finance the campaign, leading to charges that he was trying to buy the Senate seat. Ricketts also found that soliciting campaign contributions allowed Nebraskans to have a stake in the campaign.
“I also did a lot more listening when I was making my way around the state,” Ricketts says. “I put 64,000 miles on the car, driving around and the ideas that are in my platform were not something I did just sitting in a room by myself. Those were ideas that Nebraskans gave me about what we have to do to grow the state.”
A tough Republican primary forged the campaign. Ricketts says there is no substitute for the experience of winning a tight race. Indeed, Ricketts won a bit more than 57,700 votes or 26.5% of the primary vote in a field of six. Attorney General Jon Bruning finished a close second, receiving 55,500 votes or 25.5%.
As for the transition from one administration to another, Ricketts says he will lean on the experience of Governor Dave Heineman to make it a smooth one.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]