Nebraska gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2014

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Nebraska Gubernatorial Election

Primary Date:
May 13, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

November 4 Election Winners:
Pete Ricketts Republican Party
Mike Foley Republican Party
Incumbents prior to election:
Dave Heineman Republican Party
John Nelson Republican Party
Dave Heineman
John Nelson
Nebraska State Executive Elections
Top Ballot
Governor Lieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Treasurer, Auditor, Public Services Commissioner

Flag of Nebraska.png
The Nebraska gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Dave Heineman (R) was prevented by term limits from seeking another term in office. The race to replace Heineman included the Republican ticket of Pete Ricketts and Mike Foley, the Democratic ticket of Chuck Hassebrook and Jane Raybould and the Libertarian Party ticket of Mark G. Elworth Jr. and Scott Zimmerman. In Nebraska, gubernatorial nominees select their lieutenant governor running mate after the primary.[1] Ricketts and Foley won election to concurrent four-year terms.

Heineman's lieutenant governor, Rick Sheehy, was expected to run until a scandal erupted in February 2013 that resulted in Sheehy's abrupt resignation from office, effectively ruining his chances of winning election as governor in 2014. Sheehy's successor, Lavon Heidemann, was running as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, but resigned abruptly on September 9, 2014. He resigned in the wake of a protection order issued to Heidemann's sister, who accused him of physical abuse during an argument. For more information on this story, click here.

Nebraska is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. A blanket primary system is used for the nonpartisan legislature and some other statewide races while congressional primary elections are closed.[2]


Note: Lavon Heidemann's name did not appear on the ballot after an appeal by Pete Ricketts to add running mate Mike Foley following Heidemann's withdrawal on September 9, 2014. State law required gubernatorial candidates to select their running mates by September 1, with no provision for removing selected candidates from the ballot. Ricketts selected State Auditor Mike Foley as a replacement for Heidemann, and the Nebraska Secretary of State approved an appeal to replace Heidemann with Foley on September 10, 2014.[3][4]

General election

Republican Party Pete Ricketts/Mike Foley Green check mark transparent.png [5][6]
Democratic Party Chuck Hassebrook/Jane Raybould[7]
Libertarian Party Mark G. Elworth Jr./Scott Zimmerman[8]

Withdrew from race

Republican Party Lavon Heidemann - Former lieutenant governor
Republican Party Greg Adams - President of the Nebraska Unicameral, representing District 24[9]
Republican Party Charlie Janssen - State Senator, District 15[10][11]
Republican Party Mike Flood - Past Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature[12][13]
Republican Party Rick Sheehy- Former Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska[14]
Republican Party Don Stenberg - Nebraska State Treasurer[15][16]
Democratic Party Annette Dubas - Member of the Nebraska Unicameral representing District 34.[17][18]

Lost in primary

Republican Party Tom Carlson - State Senator, District 38[19]
Republican Party Beau McCoy - Member of the Nebraska State Legislature, representing District 39 since 2009.[20][21][22]
Republican Party Jon Bruning - Current Attorney General of Nebraska[23]
Republican Party Mike Foley - Nebraska State Auditor[21]
Republican Party Bryan Slone - Tax attorney, former Reagan administration official[24]


General election

Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngPete Ricketts/Mike Foley 57.2% 308,751
     Democratic Chuck Hassebrook/Jane Raybould 39.3% 211,905
     Libertarian Mark G. Elworth Jr./Scott Zimmerman 3.5% 19,001
Total Votes 539,657
Election Results via Nebraska Secretary of State.

Primary election

Republican primary

Governor of Nebraska, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngPete Ricketts 26.6% 58,671
Jon Bruning 25.5% 56,324
Beau McCoy 20.9% 46,196
Mike Foley 19.2% 42,394
Tom Carlson 4.1% 9,080
Bryan Slone 3.7% 8,265
Total Votes 220,930
Election Results via Nebraska Secretary of State.

Democratic primary

Chuck Hassebrook won the Democratic nomination without opposition.

Race background

Incumbent Gov. Dave Heineman was barred by term limits from seeking re-election in 2014.[25][26] Heineman intended to enthusiastically back then-Lt. Gov Rick Sheehy, with whom he shared a winning ticket in both the 2006 and 2010 elections, as his successor, until Sheehy's resignation in Feb. 2012, causing a "deeply disappointed" Heineman to withdraw his support for his former second-in-command's campaign.[27][28] Days later, campaign donors reportedly began receiving refund checks in the mail, the final death knell for Sheehy’s gubernatorial ambitions.[29]

With Sheehy, the previous front-runner, out of the running, other potential candidates emerged with renewed hope: six Republicans ran in the May primary.[30]

Resignation of Lavon Heidemann

Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann (R) announced his resignation from the lieutenant governor's office on September 9, 2014, following reports of a physical altercation with his sister, Lois Bohling. Bohling claimed that Heidemann grabbed her wrists and pushed her following a heated argument over their deceased father's estate. Heidemann and Bohling disagreed about her August 13 filing, which would have stripped him of his ability to farm two parcels of land previously owned by their father. This altercation led to a September 8 order from Johnson County District Judge Daniel Bryan prohibiting Heidemann from contacting his sister, visiting her home or visiting their mother's home. Heidemann stated that he disputed his sister's account of the discussion, but the order led to calls for his resignation by state Democratic leaders.[31]

Gov. Dave Heineman (R) announced that he would move quickly to fill the vacancy, which will be held by three different people in less than two years. Heineman selected state legislator John Nelson as Heidemann's replacement on September 29.[32] Heidemann's 2014 running mate, Pete Ricketts, selected State Auditor Mike Foley as his new ticket mate following the resignation. The Nebraska Secretary of State approved an appeal by Ricketts to replace Heidemann with Foley on the ballot on September 10. The deadline to name a lieutenant gubernatorial candidate was September 1, and state law does not allow names to be removed from the ballot after that date. The appeal was approved on the grounds that Ricketts had a constitutional obligation to select a running mate.[31][33]

Ballot lawsuit

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mark G. Elworth Jr. filed a lawsuit against Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale on September 12 over his decision to remove Heidemann from the general election ballot. In a filing with Lancaster County District Court, Elworth cited state law that requires candidates for lieutenant governor to be decided by September 1. Gale argued that his decision to remove Heidemann from the ballot was made after weighing a gubernatorial candidate's constitutional right to designate a running mate against the statutory deadline.[34] A district court judge ruled on September 23 that Gale's decision would stand, allowing Heidemann to be replaced by Foley on the ballot.[35]


October 2 debate

Chuck Hassebrook and Pete Ricketts shared barbs over past positions in a debate sponsored by Nebraska Educational Communications. Hassebrook accused Ricketts of supporting Gov. Dave Heineman's (R) tax proposal in 2013, which would have increased sales tax rates. The Platte Institute, a conservative think-tank created by Ricketts, supported the tax proposal, which ultimately failed to pass in the face of increasing public criticism. Hassebrook argued that Ricketts tried to hide his support for the measure when he decided to run for governor. Ricketts denied support for the bill, noting that he did not agree with every position taken by the institute.[36]

Ricketts countered by bringing up a report co-authored by Hassebrook in 1990 that called for a ban on exports of genetically modified crops. The issue of biotechnology in farming has grown in prominence due to the importance of Nebraska's agricultural sector. Hassebrook responded that he provided little assistance to the authors of the report, and was wrongly credited as a co-author. He also noted that he supported biotechnology research since the early 1990s, when he served on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.[36]

Debate viewers also saw Hassebrook and Ricketts stake out distinct positions on immigration and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run through Nebraska. Hassebrook advocated for allowing driving licenses for children brought to the country illegally, while Ricketts opposed issuing licenses as a matter of protecting existing laws. Ricketts suggested that the XL Pipeline would bring jobs to the state and securely transport oil across the country, citing problems with rail transportation of oil. Hassebrook opposed the pipeline because he suggested the project would contribute to climate change.[36]

September 1 debate

Chuck Hassebrook and Pete Ricketts sparred over education policy, economics and full-time residency in Lincoln at the Nebraska State Fair. Hassebrook opposed school vouchers for public school students, suggesting that tax dollars should be used to improve public schools. Ricketts countered that a gradual voucher policy would help students while keeping money in public schools. The duo showed stark differences in economic policy, with Hassebrook supporting a minimum wage increase and Ricketts opposing an increased wage. Moderator Mike'l Severe asked both candidates if they would reside in the governor's mansion full-time if elected. Ricketts, who has three children attending school in Omaha, said that he had not made a final decision on the question. Hassebrook stated that Nebraska needs a "full-time governor" and that he would live in Lincoln because "40 hours a week is a vacation."[37]


General election

Governor of Nebraska - All candidates
Poll Chuck Hassebrook Pete RickettsMark ElworthNot sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
June 11-12, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to
Governor of Nebraska - Major-party candidates
Poll Pete Ricketts Chuck HassebrookOther candidateUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
May 14-15, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23, 2014
AVERAGES 51% 37.5% 2.5% 9.5% +/-4.5 715.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Primary election

Governor of Nebraska
Poll Pete Ricketts Jon BruningMike FoleyBeau McCoyBryan SloneTom CarlsonUndecided/otherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Magellan Strategies
May 8, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Campaign media

Chuck Hassebrook

Chuck Hassebrook ad: Too Extreme for Nebraska

Chuck Hassebrook ad: The buck will stop at my desk

Chuck Hassebrook ad: Pinched Pennies

Pete Ricketts

Pete Ricketts ad: Believe

Pete Ricketts ad: Real-World Experience for Nebraska

Pete Ricketts ad: Disrupt

Pete Ricketts ad: Carolyn

Pete Ricketts ad: Senator Johanns

Outside groups

Republican Governors Association

RGA ad: Too Liberal

Past elections

Margin of victory analysis

The average margin of victory in the past three races for governor was 46 percent. The smallest margin of victory was 41.2 percent in 2002, while the largest margin of victory was 48.9 percent in 2006. The following chart compares the margin of victory for winners of gubernatorial races with the margin of victory for candidates who won the most votes for the top race on the ballot:[38]

Margin of victory analysis
Year Gov. candidate margin of victory (%) Party of winning candidate Top race on ballot Party of winning candidate Margin of victory (%)
2010 47.8 Republican Party - - -
2006 48.9 Republican Party U.S. Senate Democratic Party 27.8
2002 41.2 Republican Party U.S. Senate Republican Party 68.2

Note: There was no statewide vote for federal office in 2010.


Governor of Nebraska[38], 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDave Heineman Incumbent 73.9% 360,645
     Democratic Mike Meister 26.1% 127,343
Total Votes 487,988


Governor of Nebraska[38], 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDave Heineman/Rick Sheehy 73.4% 435,507
     Democratic David Hahn/Steve Loschen 24.5% 145,115
     Nebraska Barry Richards/Terry Richards 1.5% 8,953
     Nonpartisan Mort Sullivan/Ron Kellogg 0.6% 3,782
Total Votes 593,357


Governor of Nebraska[38], 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMike Johanns Incumbent 68.7% 330,349
     Democratic Stormy Dean 27.5% 132,348
     Nebraska Paul A. Rosberg 3.8% 18,294
Total Votes 480,991

Voter turnout

Political scientist Michael McDonald's United States Elections Project studied voter turnout in the 2014 election by looking at the percentage of eligible voters who headed to the polls. McDonald used voting-eligible population (VEP), or the number of eligible voters independent of their current registration status, to calculate turnout rates in each state on November 4. He also incorporated ballots cast for the highest office in each state into his calculation. He estimated that 81,687,059 ballots were cast in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, representing 35.9 percent of the VEP.[39] By comparison, 61.6 percent of VEP voted in the 2008 presidential election and 58.2 percent of VEP voted in the 2012 presidential election.[40]

Quick facts

  • According to PBS Newshour, voter turnout in the 2014 midterms was the lowest since the 1942 midterms, which took place during the nation's involvement in World War II.[41]
  • Forty-three states and the District of Columbia failed to surpass 50 percent turnout in McDonald's analysis.
  • The three states with the lowest turnout according to McDonald's analysis were Texas (28.3 percent), Tennessee (28.6 percent) and Indiana (28.8 percent).
  • Maine (58.5 percent), Wisconsin (56.5 percent) and Colorado (54.5 percent) were the three states with the highest turnout.
  • There were only 12 states that increased voter turnout in 2014 compared to the 2010 midterm elections.[42]
Voter turnout rates, 2014
State Total votes counted  % voter eligible population Top statewide office up for election Size of lead (Raw votes) Size of lead (%)
Alabama 1,191,274 33.2 Governor 320,319 27.2
Alaska 285,431 54.4 Governor 4,004 1.6
Arizona 1,537,671 34.1 Governor 143,951 12.5
Arkansas 852,642 40.1 Governor 118,664 14
California 7,513,972 30.8 Governor 1,065,748 17.8
Colorado 2,080,071 54.5 Governor 50,395 2.4
Connecticut 1,096,509 42.5 Governor 26,603 2.5
Delaware 234,038 34.4 Attorney General 31,155 13.6
District of Columbia 177,176 35.8 Mayor 27,934 19
Florida 6,026,802 43.3 Governor 66,127 1.1
Georgia 2,596,947 38.5 Governor 202,685 8
Hawaii 369,554 36.5 Governor 45,323 12.4
Idaho 445,307 39.6 Governor 65,852 14.9
Illinois 3,680,417 40.9 Governor 171,900 4.9
Indiana 1,387,622 28.8 Secretary of State 234,978 17.8
Iowa 1,142,284 50.2 Governor 245,548 21.8
Kansas 887,023 43.4 Governor 33,052 3.9
Kentucky 1,435,868 44 U.S. Senate 222,096 15.5
Louisiana 1,472,039 43.8 U.S. Senate 16,401 1.1
Maine 616,996 58.5 Governor 29,820 4.9
Maryland 1,733,177 41.5 Governor 88,648 6.1
Massachusetts 2,186,789 44.6 Governor 40,361 1.9
Michigan 3,188,956 43.2 Governor 129,547 4.3
Minnesota 1,992,613 50.5 Governor 109,776 5.6
Mississippi 631,858 28.9 U.S. Senate 141,234 33
Missouri 1,426,303 31.8 Auditor 684,074 53.6
Montana 373,831 47.3 U.S. Senate 65,262 17.9
Nebraska 552,115 41.5 Governor 97,678 18.7
Nevada 547,349 29 Governor 255,793 46.7
New Hampshire 495,565 48.4 Governor 24,924 5.2
New Jersey 1,955,042 32.5 N/A N/A N/A
New Mexico 512,805 35.7 Governor 73,868 14.6
New York 3,930,310 29 Governor 476,252 13.4
North Carolina 2,939,767 41.2 U.S. Senate 48,511 1.7
North Dakota 255,128 45 U.S. House At-large seat 42,214 17.1
Ohio 3,149,876 36.2 Governor 933,235 30.9
Oklahoma 824,831 29.8 Governor 122,060 14.7
Oregon 1,541,782 53.5 Governor 59,029 4.5
Pennsylvania 3,495,866 36 Governor 339,261 9.8
Rhode Island 329,212 42.2 Governor 14,346 4.5
South Carolina 1,261,611 35.2 Governor 179,089 14.6
South Dakota 282,291 44.9 Governor 124,865 45.1
Tennessee 1,374,065 28.6 Governor 642,214 47.5
Texas 4,727,208 28.3 Governor 957,973 20.4
Utah 577,973 30.2 Attorney General 173,819 35.2
Vermont 193,087 38.8 Governor 2,095 1.1
Virginia 2,194,346 36.6 U.S. Senate 16,727 0.8
Washington 2,123,901 43.1 N/A N/A N/A
West Virginia 451,498 31.2 U.S. Senate 124,667 27.6
Wisconsin 2,410,314 56.5 Governor 137,607 5.7
Wyoming 168,390 39.3 Governor 52,703 33.6

Note: Information from the United States Elections Project was last updated on December 16, 2014.

Campaign finance

Comprehensive donor information for this election has been collected by Follow the Money. Based on available campaign finance records, the candidates raised a raised a total of $16,108,287 during the election. This information was last updated on April 25, 2015.[43]

Campaign Contribution Totals
Candidate Office Result Contributions
Pete Ricketts/Mike FoleyRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Won $7,436,563
Chuck Hassebrook/Jane RaybouldDemocratic Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $3,071,047
Beau McCoyRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $2,604,872
Jon BruningRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $1,365,202
Bryan SloneRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $891,704
Mike FoleyRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $456,384
Tom CarlsonRepublican Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $282,515
Mark G. Elworth Jr./Scott ZimmermanLibertarian Party Nebraska Governor/Lt. Governor Defeated $0
Grand Total Raised $16,108,287

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
May 13, 2014 Primary election
November 4, 2014 General election
December 1, 2014 Certification of election results
January 8, 2015 Inauguration day for state executive officials

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Nebraska + governor + election"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Nebraska Gubernatorial Election News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Politics1, "Nebraska," accessed April 20, 2013
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  3. WOWT, "Update: Ricketts Names Mike Foley As New Running Mate," September 9, 2014
  4. Kearney Hub, "Secretary of State: Mike Foley's name to appear on ballot," September 10, 2014
  5. Journal Star, "Waiting for shoes to fall," accessed July 21, 2013
  6. Wichita Eagle, "Pete Ricketts joins GOP race for Nebraska governor," accessed September 8, 2013 (dead link)
  7. The Freemont Tribune, "Hasseback will enter 2014 governor's race," accessed June 3, 2013
  8. Nebraska Secretary of State, "2014 Filed Candidates," accessed February 19, 2014
  9. Journal Star, "Walton: Speaker Adams looks at governor race," accessed September 1, 2013
  10. Omaha World-Herald, "State Sen. Charlie Janssen to run for governor; Clare won't run," accessed February 18, 2013
  11. Nebraska Watchdog, "Janssen 'seriously considering' run for governor," accessed December 13, 2012
  12. Omaha World-Herald, "Mike Flood drops bid for governor; wife ill," accessed December 6, 2012
  13. Lincoln Journal Star, "Don Walton: Flood won't re-enter governor's race," accessed July 7, 2013
  14. Omaha World-Herald, "Sheehy's gubernatorial campaign shutting down," accessed February 5, 2013
  15. World Herald-Bureau, "Mike Flood launches bid for governor's office in 2014," accessed November 13, 2012
  16. News & Observer, "Nebraska Treasurer Stenberg to seek re-election," accessed December 5, 2013
  17. Omaha, "Democrat Annette Dubas' bid for governor stirs excitement about the race in both parties," accessed August 9, 2013
  18. The Grand Island Independent, "Dubas drops out of Nebraska governor’s race," accessed November 26, 2013
  19. Fox 14 News, "State Sen. Carlson joins race for Neb. governor," accessed July 12, 2013 (dead link)
  20. Centre Daily Times, "Republican Beau McCoy to enter governor's race," accessed August 23, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 Omaha World-Herald, "Potential candidates jockey for office vacated by Sheehy," accessed February 2, 2013
  22. Journal Star, "Sen. Beau McCoy enters GOP governor race," accessed August 23, 2013
  23. Omaha, "Nebraska AG Jon Bruning Confirms Interest in Gubernatorial Bid," accessed January 30, 2014
  24. NTV, "Bryan Slone Enters Nebraska Governor's Race," accessed December 17, 2013
  25. World Herald-Bureau, "Mike Flood launches bid for governor's office in 2014," November 13, 2012
  26. World Herald-Bureau, "Mike Flood launches bid for governor's office in 2014," November 13, 2012
  27. Journal Star, "Sheehy says he will run for Nebraska governor in 2014," July 15, 2011
  28. The Wall Street Journal, “Nebraska lt. governor resigns,” February 2, 2013
  29. Omaha World-Herald, “Sheehy’s campaign returns donations,” February 6, 2013
  30. National Review Online, "Charlie Janssen to run for Nebraska governor, February 19, 2013
  31. 31.0 31.1, " Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann resigns, withdraws as Pete Ricketts' running mate," September 9, 2014
  32., "Heineman chooses Omaha Sen. John Nelson as lieutenant governor," accessed September 29, 2014
  33. Kearney Hub, "Secretary of State: Mike Foley's name to appear on ballot," September 10, 2014
  34. WOWT, "Candidate Sues To Get Heidemann's Name Back On Ballot," September 13, 2014
  35. Lincoln Journal Star, "Challenge to Foley ballot change ends," September 23, 2014
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2, " In their last debate before election, Nebraska governor candidates try to build contrasts," October 2, 2014
  37., "Hassebrook-Ricketts debate: Nebraska's governor candidates display stark choice voters will face," September 2, 2014
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 Nebraska Secretary of State, "Previous Elections," accessed September 25, 2014
  39. United States Elections Project, "2014 November General Election Turnout Rates," November 7, 2014
  40. TIME, "Voter Turnout in Midterm Elections Hits 72-Year Low," November 10, 2014
  41. PBS, "2014 midterm election turnout lowest in 70 years," November 10, 2014
  42. U.S. News & World Report, "Midterm Turnout Down in 2014," November 5, 2014
  43. Follow the Money, "Overview of Nebraska 2014 elections," accessed May 7, 2015