Nebraska’s Republican governor Dave Heineman can’t run for reelection, leaving the field wide open. In a state that leans heavily Republican, substantial competition is likely to take place in the GOP primary.
Three Republican state senators have already indicated they will run, and today, state auditor Mike Foley is set to throw his hat in the ring. Foley is backed by GOP congressman Jeff Fortenberry, whose rumored bid for the state’s open Senate seat was quickly slammed by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
The elephant in the room, though, is former TD Ameritrade COO Pete Ricketts, who sources tell National Review Online is set to announce his candidacy soon, and whose entry will bring money flowing into the race. Ricketts spent over $11 milion of his own money in his unsuccessful 2006 bid to unseat incumbent senator Ben Nelson and is likely to mount a similarly aggressive effort this time around. The Ricketts family, and, in particular, TD Ameritrade founder (and Pete’s father) Joe Ricketts, have contributed millions in recent years to end earmarks, and to the campaigns of Republican candidates across the country. They donated heavily to Deb Fischer, who last year defeated former Democratic senator Bob Kerrey in an upset victory.
Ricketts, if he wins, would be a high-profile voice in the GOP, particularly in an era in which the party’s important figures, from Chris Christie to Scott Walker to Susana Martinez, are working on the state level.