Nebraska Republican Party Accuses Sen. Krist of “Party-Shopping” in His Run For Governor

LINCOLN – The Nebraska Republican Party is responding quickly to Sen. Bob Krist’s announcement that he will run for governor as an independent candidate.

The GOP issued a release Tuesday, touting what they call “party shopping” on the part of the Omaha senator in an effort to achieve higher office.

“Senator Krist has run as a Republican in years past in 2010 and 2014,” Nebraska GOP Executive Director Kenny Zoeller told News Channel Nebraska in an interview Wednesday. “He ran on opposing state funding for illegal immigrants, lowering taxes and also controlling government spending, all of which he’s voted against in his time in the legislature.”

Krist said in his gubernatorial announcement that his campaign was driven in part by his belief that the Legislature has become overly partisan and that Gov.Pete Ricketts has exerted influence through tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Republican legislative candidates.

Zoeller disputed that notion to News Channel Nebraska.

“When people say that there’s more partisanship in the Unicameral, there’s really not,” Zoeller said. “There aren’t more Republicans or more Democrats. What’s happening is that the Unicameral is becoming more ideological. When a person runs as a conservative, now what we’re seeing is state senators actually voting as a conservative and voting as an individual to keep their campaign promises.”

The GOP’s timeline of what they call Sen. Krist’s “party shopping” on their website pointed to an op-ed he wrote in 2012, disagreeing with then Gov. Dave Heineman’s vocal opposition to senators like Krist and others in the Republican Party that voted for LB 599, which restored prenatal care to low income women, including, in some cases, illegal immigrants.

Krist was appointed to the Unicameral by Heineman in 2009.

The GOP also maligned Krist’s support of Democrat Brad Ashford in his race against Republican incumbent Lee Terry. Ashford and Krist served together as state senators, and Krist told the Lincoln Journal-Star in 2013 that he had briefly considered opposing Terry in the U.S. House race, raising concerns at the time that the GOP was not communicating well with its base.

“We’ve seen in years past that Senator Krist says one thing and then his actions dictate another,” Zoeller said. “What we at the Nebraska Republican Party are trying to do is inform Nebraskans that this is what Senator Krist stands for.”

Ricketts has already announced he will be running for re-election as a Republican. To date, no Democrat has announced their intentions to run in 2018.