Kellyanne Conway finds herself in the middle of a simmering feud between Donald Trump and Nebraska's Republican governor.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, whose family plays a major role in GOP fundraising, asked the former president earlier this year not to endorse his political adversary Charles Herbster in the primary race to succeed him, but Trump jumped into the race last week by endorsing his longtime ally after months of tension, reported Politico.
"While I agree with President Trump on many things," Ricketts said hours after the announcement, "I strongly disagree that Charles Herbster is qualified to be our next governor."
Herbster, a cattle-breeding executive who was at both Trump's 2015 campaign launch and the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, earned the family's antipathy during the 2014 gubernatorial race, when he backed a Ricketts opponent who called Ricketts a hypocrite for co-owning the "gay-friendly" Chicago Cubs, in an apparent reference to the governor's sister Laura, who is a lesbian.
The livestock magnate then bankrolled a state legislative candidate who unsuccessfully challenged an officeholder Ricketts had appointed, but the governor nursed a grudge that boiled over in late June when he ran into Kellyanne Conway at a Republican National Committee event in June and she told him she was working on Herbster's campaign.
Conway later told others that she was surprised by Ricketts' aggressive tone and vitriol toward Herbster, although she was slightly more diplomatic in a statement to Politico.
"What I thought was a polite acknowledgement quickly devolved into what I realize was not a philosophical or political difference with Gov. Ricketts toward Charles Herbster, but rather a personal one," Conway told the website.
"While I won't disclose details of a private conversation," she added, "I was shocked because I have long respected the Ricketts family and helped broker the peace between Joe Ricketts, Todd Ricketts, and Donald Trump in the fall of 2016, inviting them to the private residence in Trump Tower."
A Ricketts spokesperson insisted the governor had "no personal issue at all" with Herbster, but added that his comments to Conway were "an honest and pointed conversation did outline multiple reasons why he believes Herbster is ill-suited to be governor of Nebraska."
Herbster met with Ricketts at the governor's mansion on July 2, but their conversation lasted just six minutes, and he went with Conway to Mar-A-Lago last month for a meeting that lasted several hours and sealed the deal on Trump's endorsement.