Election 2022: Pillen projected winner in Republican governor primary

This crowd is fired up.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:48 AM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 10:28 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Tuesday’s Primary Election Day in Nebraska drew some national attention for its highly contested race on the Republican ticket for governor.

Election officials projected higher-than-average voter turnouts than in previous gubernatorial primaries because of the closely contested race.

Below are the preliminary results of those races from all 1,323 precincts.

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial race

Frontrunners Charles Herbster and Jim Pillen, in particular, were engaged in fierce campaigning these last weeks and months, so much so that thousands of Nebraskans have recently switched their party affiliation most likely in order to participate in finalizing the Republican candidate ahead of November’s general election. Brett Lindstrom and Theresa Thibodeau were also high-profile candidates in this race. Results come directly from the Nebraska Secretary of State.

  • Pillen: 33.9%
  • Herbster: 30.2%
  • Lindstrom: 25.8%
  • Thibodeau: 6.1%

The Associated Press called Jim Pillen as the projected winner of the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday night.

The Associated Press projected Jim Pillen as Nebraska's Republican gubernatorial primary candidate.

See how candidates Michael Connely, Donna Nicole Carpenter, Lel McNinch, Troy Wentz, and Breland Ridenour are faring on our election results page.

Democratic candidates include Carol Blood and Roy Harris.

  • Carol Blood: 88.5%
  • Roy Harris: 11.5%

AP called Carol Blood as the projected winner of the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday night.

Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood has won the Democratic nomination for governor.

2nd Congressional District

Primary election voters on Tuesday selected their candidate to run for Republican incumbent Congressman Don Bacon’s seat in November.

Republicans chose between Bacon and challenger Steve Kuehl.

  • Bacon: 77.1%
  • Kuehl: 22.9%

AP called Don Bacon as the projected winner of the Republican 2nd Congressional District primary on Tuesday night.

Democrats chose between Alisha Shelton and Tony Vargas.

  • Shelton: 29%
  • Vargas: 71%

AP called Tony Vargas as the projected winner of the Democratic 2nd Congressional District primary on Tuesday night.

Vargas has defeated Shelton by a wide margin.

1st Congressional District

Republicans in the 1st District were selecting a candidate to fill former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s seat in Congress, with one plot twist: His name is also on the ballot.

  • Thireena Yuki Connely: 4%
  • Mike Flood: 73.7%
  • Jeff Fortenberry: 12%
  • Curtis Huffman: 3.7%
  • John Glen Weaver: 6.6%

AP called Mike Flood as the projected winner of the Republican 1st Congressional District primary on Tuesday night.

Mike Flood has won the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District.

Democrats chose between Patty Pansing Brooks and Jazari Zakaria.

  • Patty Pansing Brooks: 86.7%
  • Jazari Zakaria: 13.2%

AP called Patty Pansing Brooks as the projected winner of the Democratic 1st Congressional District primary on Tuesday night.


Early voting

Nebraska voters who cast their ballots early can track their ballot online.

Not counting the primary in 2020 during the pandemic, more Nebraska voters this year asked for an early ballot than ever before: 229,000.

But voters have been slow to turn in their ballots. As of Sunday 93,000 were still outstanding. Many more came in Monday. As of Tuesday, there were 46,000 requested that had not yet been returned.

Half of those are ballots in counties where mail-in voting is the only option. This means 183,000 people have already voted, not counting anyone who stood in line Tuesday. Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to put their requested ballots in a dropbox.

Regarding voter turnout, the heated governor’s race, with spending in the ballpark of $20 million, made for a higher than usual expected turnout.

The Nebraska Secretary of State is predicting a turnout of 35%. Primary turnouts have recently been much lower in non-presidential years. 2018 saw a primary election turnout of 25%, 2014 had 28% turnout, and 2010 had a 24% turnout.

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen said more can be done to increase turnout.

“The engagement of people, the turnout of people, that is something number one: that’s the responsibility of the political parties and the candidates,” Evnen said. “And number two: in the larger sense, it’s about educating our children about the importance of exercising the franchise in this representative democracy, this republic we have.”

2014 was the last competitive primary with a crowded field where Pete Ricketts won with 27% of the vote.

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