Newly elected Nebraska Republican State Chairman Eric Underwood of Lincoln and his leadership team said that they are committed to securing the election in November of GOP primary election nominees, specifically Jim Pillen.
“Make no mistake, the NEGOP remains committed to our Republican primary winners,” the new party leaders stated in a news release Tuesday.
Earlier in an interview with Ian Swanson on KFAB-AM, Underwood specifically declared “100% support for Jim Pillen as our next governor.”
Pillen won the May 10 primary election in a hotly contested race that included Charles W. Herbster, the candidate who won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
In the news release, the new party leaders declared that “the top-down approach which has been successful is not as nimble or representative of all conservative Nebraskans from Omaha to Scottsbluff” as the new leadership model intends to be.
That may have been directed at the influence or control exercised by Gov. Pete Ricketts in leading the party.
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“Everybody has a seat at this table,” Underwood said in the radio interview.
But, he said, the new leadership elected at the party’s state convention in Kearney on Saturday also expresses “100% support for Gov. Ricketts.”
“We cannot fight among ourselves,” he said.
“This was not a movement for or against any specific people or group, but rather a vote to fortify Republican platform ideas, conservative values, and a focus on performance over personalities in future county, state and national elections with a people-first, bottom-up approach,” the GOP news release stated.
“Simply put, the delegates felt conservative Nebraskans and the NEGOP could operate more effectively with a people-first, bottom-up approach setting the conservative agenda, growing traditional values and building candidates that uphold those principles.”
Ricketts had little to say Wednesday about the new leadership vowing to take a “people-first, bottom-up approach” to party operations.
“I would say the Nebraska Republican Party has been very successful at electing Republicans, but there can always be more than one right way to get that done,” he said.
Nor would the governor say whether he intends to continue contributing to the party’s campaign war chest. He has donated $330,000 to the party over the past 12 months.
“I have already been very generous to the Nebraska Republican Party this year,” he said.
The GOP convention over the weekend was dominated by upheaval that resulted in Underwood’s election as chairman. That move was preceded by the firing of former Chairman Dan Welch, which triggered a wave of resignations from other party officials, including Executive Director Taylor Gage and National Committeewoman Lydia Brasch.
Party members provided different explanations for the change. Some local Republicans felt they had been excluded by the party establishment led by Ricketts. Some also complained that the state GOP leadership unfairly picked sides in the gubernatorial primary to favor Pillen, the eventual victor.
In the GOP news release, the party’s new leadership declared it “is here to elect conservative Republicans in November at all levels and well into the future and fight the radical left agenda growing in our state and in our nation.”
World-Herald staff writers Martha Stoddard and Erin Bamer contributed to this report.
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