Nebraska Sec. of State accepts Foley on ballot


September 11th, 2014

Omaha, NE – Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts said Tuesday he wanted to substitute Mike Foley for former Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, as his running mate.


That was after Heidemann announced he was resigning as lieutenant governor, following allegations by his sister that he grabbed her and pushed her out a door in an argument over caring for their 84-year old mother. Heidemann said he does not agree with his sister’s description of the incident, but was resigning for the good of his family.

After Ricketts said he now wants to run with Foley, Democrats complained Republicans were trying to reshuffle their ticket after a Sept. 1 deadline had passed.

Announcing his decision Wednesday to accept Foley on the ballot, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale acknowledged state statutes only provide for the removal of a candidate on the statewide ballot by Sept. 1. But Gale said it’s his duty to ensure the accuracy of the ballot and prevent voter confusion.

Democratic candidate Chuck Hassebrook and wife Kate Borchman watch lt. governor candidate Jane Raybould speak. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Democratic candidate Chuck Hassebrook and wife Kate Borchman watch lt. governor candidate Jane Raybould speak. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Gale said the Nebraska Constitution gives the candidate for governor exclusive authority to pick the candidate for lieutenant governor. He said the ballot for the November election has not yet been certified. That’s the final step of telling county officials who is on the ballot before they start sending ballots off to overseas and military voters, starting Sept. 19. Therefore Gale said refusing to accept Ricketts’ selection for lieutenant governor could violate Ricketts’ constitutional rights.

Nebraska Democratic Party Chairman Vince Powers immediately denounced Gale’s decision. “This is an outrageous decision by a partisan Republican who wants to help his fellow Republicans,” Powers said. “Mr. Gale has completely ignored the rule of law, and he has gone with pure power politics.”

Gale was unavailable for comment. But Ricketts campaign manager Matt Miltenberger said Gale reached a “sound decision.” In a written statement, Miltenberger said, ”The State’s Constitution is clear. Nebraskans have given gubernatorial candidates the right to designate their running mates. In this case, the ballot can now be certified in a manner that accurately reflects the choices before Nebraska voters.”

In his written response, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chuck Hassebrook said he will not challenge Gale’s ruling in court. “I choose to take the case for my election to the people of Nebraska,” Hassebrook said.

But Hassebrook went on to say the ruling in favor of the new Republican ticket is another ill effect from what he called “one party rule” in Nebraska. He elaborated on that theme in a news conference before the decision was announced.

“We have to a significant degree become a state that, in recent years, has been dominated by one party,” Hassebrook said. “I think when that happens in any state, and in any party – as you can see it in my party in other states – when one party becomes so dominant that it fears no accountability, it becomes kind of an ‘old boys club.’”

Hassebrook’s running mate, Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jane Raybould, talked about something she said was being overlooked in all the discussion of political developments – the issue of domestic violence.

“We have heard a lot about domestic violence this week in the national news, especially about Ray Rice with the NFL,” she said. “There is no circumstance that should ever end in one putting their hands on another in anger. In the United States 24 people are victims of domestic violence every minute. Domestic violence is not a private family matter. Domestic violence affects us all.”

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