Gov. Pete Ricketts, the largest individual donor to the death penalty petition campaign, says he’s not sure what role he might play in a general election campaign.
Ricketts donated at least $200,000 to the apparently successful petition campaign to get the death penalty on the November ballot next year. New campaign finance disclosures will be made public later this month and Ricketts declines to say whether they will reveal additional donations.
Ricketts also is coy about whether he will donate to a general election campaign.
“It’s always certainly a potential,” Ricketts tells reporters when asked. “We don’t have any specific plans or nobody has talked to me about what the campaign after this would look like.”
Ricketts says talk of a campaign or of whether he would push for executions is a bit early.
“There’s a process in place here I think we need to follow,” Ricketts says. “And that process is verifying the signatures and then, once we know what that means, we can talk about what the next step after that will be.”
The petition campaign run by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty gathered nearly 167,000 signatures. They have been filed with the Secretary of State’s office, which sorted and organized them and then shipped them to the counties for verification. The process could take up to 40 days.
The petition campaign began shortly after the Unicameral overrode Gov. Ricketts’ vetoed LB 268 and repealed the death penalty.
The campaign needs approximately 57,000 signatures from registered voters to make the November 2016 ballot. If organizers gathered nearly 114,000 signatures from registered voters, the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty does not take effect.
Ricketts won’t say whether he’s confident it reached the second threshold.
“Well, I’m very confident that Nebraskans will have the ability to vote on this,” Ricketts says. “Whether it suspends the law or not will have to wait and see.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]