EXCLUSIVE: Theresa Thibodeau returning to Nebraska governor’s race

The former running mate of a fellow GOP contender is planning her own run for the state’s top office.
WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Add one more to the field of possible candidates planning to run for Governor of Nebraska.

Earlier this year, Theresa Thibodeau was introduced as the running mate for gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, who announced his candidacy in April. But she stepped out in July, saying she didn’t have enough time for the campaign and had other issues to deal with.

“I have managed that and those are taken care of and finished; and at the same time, I have since then sold my business as well, and now I do have the time,” she told 6 News on Wednesday.

Now, she’s thinking about running for governor.

Thibodeau is no stranger to politics: Appointed to the state legislature by Gov. Pete Ricketts, she was also the chairwoman of the Douglas County GOP.

Thibodeau said she believe there are urgent issues that the next governor will have to deal with, like education: She said she thinks parents want to have a say on what their children are being taught in school, from critical race theory and health standards, or sex education.

She said she’s also concerned about illegal immigration and how it affects Nebraska; but her top priority is tax relief.

“The majority of Nebraskans want to see some actual tax reform as well as looking at our cost and where we can manage those expenditures as well,” she said.

It’s still early in the process, but facing Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood, the only Democrat to announce a run for the office so far, could set up the possibility of two women battling for the governor’s seat — something that hasn’t happened since Kay Orr defeated former Lincoln Mayor Helen Boosalis for governor back in 1986.

“It would show women in the State of Nebraska that women do have a seat at the table in this state, and women have wonderful ideas that they can put forth,” Thibodeau said. “...We have not had a female governor since Kay Orr... and she was a wonderful governor.”

Blood said that’s only one aspect of her candidacy.

“Elections matter. I welcome women from any ideology, ethnicities, backgrounds, or sexual identities to get involved in campaigns now and in the future. With that said, I don’t see myself as a Democratic Woman running in a Republican-leaning state,” she told 6 News. “I see myself as a Nebraskan running in the state of Nebraska for governor.”

Republican Jim Pillen, a Platte County veterinarian and large-scale farmer, also announced his gubernatorial campaign in April.

Thibodeau said she expects a crowded field in the primary and says that’s not a bad thing. She calls it a job interview in front of the voters of Nebraska.

The state’s primary is set for May 10. Ricketts terms out, so Nebraskans will head to polls to elect a new governor on Nov. 8, 2022.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.

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