Nebraska Farmers Praise Sasse, Ricketts; Agriculture Represented in Legislative Races


Heineman, Johanns, Bruning, and Foley -- four of the biggest names in Nebraska politics will soon be out of a job. All have been supported by Nebraska farmers, but ag producers still feel they'll be represented well.

Pete Ricketts supporters jumped for joy, proclaiming a narrow victory over Jon Bruning in the Republican primary for governor.

And the Omaha businessman says his focus is growing jobs. "Especially agriculture and manufacturing, our two largest industries," Ricketts said.

Many ag producers supported Ricketts and many of those same farmers supported Ben Sasse for Senate.

Nebraska Farm Bureau generally doesn’t endorse candidates in primaries, but did with Sasse.

"Certainly a great guy, and going to work hard and represent Nebraska well," Farm Bureau Vice President Mark McHargue said.

The Legislature will have at least 17 new members, maybe 20, and most of them represent Lincoln and Omaha.

But a few new senators will come from the farm. "As a cattle producer and veterinarian, I look forward to representing agriculture," John Kuehn of Heartwell said.

He is running for the seat that has been held by Tom Carlson of Holdrege.

Kuehn is running unopposed. The same is true of corn grower Curt Friesen. There's no question they know the issues in agriculture.

Friesen is vice-chair of the Nebraska Corn Board, and has been involved with a number of ag groups.

He said, "For my constituents property taxes are the biggest issue, property taxes and water."

Not only will half the Legislature be new, there will be a new governor, either Ricketts or Chuck Hassebrook. While that’s still to be decided, those like Kuehn and Friesen who are virtually assured of election in November, look to the future.

Kuehn said, "It’s really important to start thinking about legislative priorities, and it’s been great to listen to concerns and needs of citizens of my district and start putting into place what’s going to happen in the first months of 2015."

Friesen said, "That’s one advantage I have, don’t have to concentrate so much on the campaign, I can start to get more familiar with the issues and the process and the budget."

With a new governor and all those new senators, next year is also a budget year.