Farm Bureau Endorses Ricketts for Governor; Buffett Backs Hasseb - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Farm Bureau Endorses Ricketts for Governor; Buffett Backs Hassebook

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Nebraska's wealthiest man throws his support and money into the race for governor. Pete Ricketts isn't fazed by Warren Buffett's support of his opponent, and Ricketts has picked up a big endorsement of his own.

"Your word of mouth recommendation is the best advertisement I can get," Pete Ricketts told a room full of supporters in York.

Ricketts says he'll run lots of ads, but campaigning in coffee shops may be just as important, especially with Nebraska Farm Bureau's backing. 

Ricketts said, "The Farm Bureau's endorsement says to people Pete understands how to grow agriculture."

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said, "We've gotten to know Pete Ricketts. He truly understands agriculture and the issues that affect ag and how important ag is to our entire state."

The state's largest farm organization says the endorsement came from its members, not its board or political action committee. Farm Bureau leaders say Ricketts understands their positions, even if he doesn't come from a farm background.

Mark McHargue, Vice President of Farm Bureau said, "Just because someone comes from business point of view in Omaha does not mean he doesn't understand importance of rural Nebraska. We've been traveling with Pete a couple of days, and I believe 100 percent that he gets rural Nebraska."

Ricketts and Farm Bureau want to see ag land valued lower for tax purposes. But a governor can't do it alone as Gov. Dave Heineman learned this year. His plan to lower valuations of ag land failed.

Ricketts thinks a new class of lawmakers will take another look, with current Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heidemann at his side. 

"Lavon knows those folks already and has a reputation for building consensus," Ricketts said. "And as I've been on the campaign trail, I've been working to develop relationships with people like Curt Friesen, John Kuehn, Matt Williams, Mark Kolterman, all the folks I think are going to be in the Unicameral next year."

Ricketts will face Chuck Hassebrook this November. The Democrat has picked up a big endorsement of his own, a donation from one of the nation's wealthiest men. 

The $100,000 contribution from Warren Buffett may be the largest ever given to a candidate by the "Oracle of Omaha." Buffett has traditionally supported Democrats.

But Ricketts is unfazed. 

He said, "I don't think it's terribly surprising Warren Buffet is supporting my opponent. They share a lot of the same radical views like abortion on demand, and I think what Nebraskans are going to see, this campaign will provide a very clear choice of who they want to lead the state in November."

Hassebrook is former head of the Center for Rural Affairs and a past member of the Board of Regents. A spokeswoman for Buffett says he made the contribution because he believes Hassebrook would make "an outstanding governor."

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