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NEWS 1.5.23: New Nebraska Governor, U.S. Senator Ricketts?, and More

Nebraska Public Media

Jim Pillen was sworn in as the new governor of Nebraska during a ceremony in Lincoln this afternoon. The Columbus Republican is a hog farmer, veterinarian, and former chair of the Nebraska State Board of Regents.

“We live in a very special place where the son of a tenant farmer and seamstress can get a good education, go to college, receive a doctorate in veterinary medicine, raise a family, build a business, and be elected to lead the greatest state in America.”

The Nebraska Democratic Party issued a statement prior to Pillen taking the oath of office:

“New name, same game. Jim Pillen will continue the legacy of the backdoor dealings of anti-choice billionaire Pete Ricketts. Pillen hid from voters during his campaign refusing to host debates and now he’s claiming to be a governor for the people while consistently supporting extreme policies. Hard-working Nebraskans know that Ricketts purchased Pillen’s seat, and to reciprocate, Pillen is handing Ricketts’ a US Senate seat to return the favor.”

Fox News reported Ricketts spent more than $1.3 million in personal money to help Pillen replace him in office. Ricketts could not run for governor again due to term limits.

Senator Ben Sasse resigned his seat to take a new position at the University of Florida.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse

He gave his final speech on Tuesday to Congress.

“Here’s the good news our ears need to hear. Americans overwhelmingly don’t want power to be at the center of our shared experience. They don’t want a leftwing nanny state telling them how to live, and they certainly don’t want a rightwing potentate to promise to crush our so-called domestic enemies. We want America to be America again.”

Ricketts previously ran for Senate in 2006 but lost Ben Nelson, a Democrat.

Pillen joins a slew of Republicans who claimed all of the state’s top executive offices. Pillen was elected in November, defeating Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1994. Pillen’s toughest race came during the contentious primary, in which he had to defeat eight other candidates, including one backed by former President Donald Trump. Also sworn in Thursday were Lt. Gov. Joe Kelly, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, State Treasurer John Murante, state Attorney General Mike Hilgers, and State Auditor Mike Foley. All are Republicans.

The Nebraska Legislative session got underway yesterday with 49 Senators in the Unicameral. Two major issues that will likely be brought up this year abortion and taxes, with some lawmakers are looking to repeal the state’s inheritance tax.

One Nebraska lawmaker also plans to introduce a measure to move to a bicameral legislative body, saying it would result in better representation for rural parts of the state. But he admits he doesn’t think the proposal stands a chance.

Submitted news release:

Dumkrieger Will Not Seek Re-Election

Sioux City, Iowa -- Jeremy Dumkrieger, Chair of the Woodbury County Democratic Party made the following statement regarding the upcoming WCDP Officer Elections

"Over the past six years as Chair, I've had the opportunity to work with a countless number of amazing people, received a world-class hands-on education in American politics, and fought on the right side of history in the fight against Donald Trump. As we enter a new era, it is time for me to support a new chair with a new perspective. I will not be running for re-election for Woodbury County Democratic Party Chair."

"I look forward to pursuing other political and business interests and will announce new projects in the weeks and months to follow."

The Woodbury County Democratic Party Central Committee members will elect a new chair on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at the biennial caucus. Dumkrieger was first elected in 2017 and served three, two-year terms.

In 2018, Dumkrieger received the Bob Creech Award for Outstanding County Chair from the Iowa Democratic Party at his induction into the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame.

"I don’t know if you’ve ever heard [Dumkrieger] called this – but around the country, he is known as the James Brown of county chair people, because he’s one of the hardest working men in the chairman business. I’m thankful for him.” U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ)

“In my 20 years as a Congressman and this past year as a candidate for President, I have worked with hundreds of County chairs across the country. Jeremy Dumkrieger stands above them all. He is a passionate Democrat, superb organizer, and is consistently fair to everyone...." Congressman Tim Ryan (OH) 

The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed on appointing a new County Attorney this week.

Assistant county attorney Steven Goodlow will fill the vacant county attorney position.

Previous county attorney Amy Zenor resigned last month after being arrested for public intoxication at the Dickinson County Courthouse.

As Republicans wrangle with the decision of who will win the role of House Speaker, a University of Iowa graduate has been managing the voting and debate on the House floor. Radio Iowa reports Cheryl Lynn Johnson has been the Clerk of the U.S. House since February 25, 2019. Since there’s no speaker of the House yet, Johnson, as House Clerk, is the presiding officer of the House. Johnson graduated from the University of Iowa in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

January is human trafficking awareness month, and more than 600 Iowa businesses and industry groups are now part of an initiative aimed at identifying and responding to human trafficking in the state.

Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking was launched a year ago. Secretary of State Paul Pate says businesses that join the program are asked to help raise public awareness of trafficking or train workers to spot people who may be trafficking victims.

Pate says the number of reported trafficking incidents in Iowa has risen. The most recent data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows there were nearly 300 contacts from Iowa in 2021. Those tips led to dozens of cases reaching law enforcement. More on the story can be found here.

News release submitted by the Sioux City Police Department:

Sioux City Police Department

Despite several rounds of heavy snow in recent weeks, it will take significantly more precipitation to break Iowa’s long-running drought.

State climatologist Justin Glisan tells Radio Iowamuch of the state is far behind on moisture levels.

Much of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota have been in significant drought for most of the last two years.

U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S Drought Monitor