by TCG Staff
In a stinging rebuke to Gov. Pete Ricketts (and a worrisome omen to his anointed successor, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Jim Pillen), longtime conservatives and ardent Trump-era supporters took over the Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
GOP State Chairman Dan Welch went down to decisive defeat by Lancaster County Republican Party Chairman Eric Underwood. Recently-appointed Executive Director Taylor Gage, a former longtime staffer for Gov. Ricketts, then abruptly resigned along with a number of other Republican party officials after reading the rather obvious political tea leaves.
Details are in the following article from the Sunday edition of left-leaning publication The Nebraska Examiner. Read it here
Old-guard conservatives and Trump populists take Nebraska GOP from Ricketts
Welch is removed as state party chair, replaced by Lancaster County GOP chairman Underwood
By: Aaron Sanderford – July 9, 2022 11:50 pm
KEARNEY, Nebraska — A motivated group of old-guard conservatives and Trump-era populists took over the Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday, ousting and replacing state GOP Chairman Dan Welch. The move sparked at least a dozen resignations from GOP leaders.
By Saturday night, the state’s dominant political party had lost its chairman, executive director, two of three district chairs, national committeewoman, three assistant state party chairs, secretary, treasurer and lawyer, among others.
Party critics had pressed for change, with several saying they sent a message to Gov. Pete Ricketts and party leaders that the state GOP is more than a “party of one.” Cheers erupted when the amendment passed allowing delegates to fire GOP leaders. The crowd was quieter when Welch lost his vote.
Ricketts had no immediate comment.
Some Republicans have complained for years that the governor and state GOP had taken sides in open races with Republicans running against Republicans. Several cited the legislative race between State Sen. Julie Slama and then-GOP activist Janet Palmtag.
Others pointed to the May GOP primary for governor. Welch said delegates believed bad information that the GOP had taken sides. Ricketts spent aggressively to sway the governor’s race toward his pick, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who won the primary.
Some of what happened Saturday was telegraphed leading up to the convention. The Freedom Coalition held a 125-person rally Friday for people who wanted new leadership in the state GOP. Most who attended raised their hands when asked if they were delegates.
Successful floor fights to credential five of six Republicans that the state GOP had rejected from attending offered additional clues. One of the six, Lancaster County GOP activist Fanchon Blythe, helped lead the takeover after being allowed into the convention Saturday.
Another one of the six, unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Matt Innis, was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and assault for trying to enter the meeting hall before the group voted to let him in. After being released from Buffalo County Jail, Innis walked into the convention hall to applause.
Innis said after the vote, “Pete (Ricketts) brought this on himself” by letting the state party and staff change the rules and interpret the party constitution to achieve their ends. Trying to reject the six delegates before the convention “didn’t help,” he said.
The party’s state convention had high off-year turnout of more than 600 people, including 346 delegates at its peak. The people who took over the party plan to quickly push it farther to the right, including adopting a resolution calling for counting election ballots by hand.
Featured image: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts addresses the Nebraska Republican Party convention in Kearney, Neb. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)