According to a report from the Daily Beast's Noah Kirsch, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is trying to turn himself into a national player in the Republican Party by ramping up the "nuttiness quotient" and embracing far-right conspiracies.
As Kirsch notes, Ricketts previously kept his distance from former president Donald Trump but is now "embracing" the way the former president gained a mass audience while using the president's extremist playbook.
"Billionaire’s scion and Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts set a high watermark for controversy during his first six years in office. There was his 'crazy' refusal to lock down the state despite a surge of COVID-19 cases, the unearthed racist messages from his former campaign field director, and his maskless gabfest at a sports bar on election night 2020. (The restaurant worker who filmed the governor was fired)," the report states before adding, "Yet in recent months the nuttiness quotient has somehow metastasized."
According to political observers, Ricketts seems to have his eye on higher office, positioning himself for a possible cabinet position in the next Republican administration or, looking higher, the vice-presidential spot on the ticket.
Explained John McCollister, a Republican member of the Nebraska Legislature, "I think he’s gunning for either a cabinet office when a Republican president takes over in ’24 or a vice presidential slot. It’s ironic because he [initially] didn’t support Trump, but he’s embracing Trumpian types of policies now. I’d say during his first term, when I was in the legislature, he wasn’t embracing so many of these cultural issues.”
Another Nebraska politico claimed Ricketts seems to be trying to catch Trump's eye and attract the attention of his rabid followers.
“The only thing I can think of is that he expects Donald Trump to be a factor in the next election, whether he is a nominee or whether he anoints somebody else… and I think [Ricketts] is trying to appeal to the Trump faction of the party," the official explained.
As Kirsch notes, Ricketts can count on the support of his wealthy family which "collectively owns a majority stake in the Chicago Cubs," and "owes much of its wealth to the online brokerage TD Ameritrade" to fund his ambitions.
Noting the governor's previous resistance to Trump, the report states, "Pete Ricketts ultimately endorsed Trump, who infamously launched his campaign by calling many Mexican immigrants criminals and 'rapists.' Now, as the governor seems to be contemplating a similar presidential bid, he is fanning flames of his own," with Kirsch writing that locals believe, "the governor seems to believe that political wedge issues offer his best shot at national office."
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