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A pair of senators appointed to the Legislature by Gov. Pete Ricketts passed their first electoral test on Tuesday.

Sen. Rob Clements, who was tapped by Ricketts to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Bill Kintner in 2017, pulled away from challenger Susan Lorence after the two were tied with 1,309 votes apiece at the 9:30 p.m. mark.

Clements continued to gain an edge over Lorence in the District 2 race, gathering nearly 48 percent of the vote by 11 p.m. The two will face one another again in the general election. James Bond finished third.

Omaha Sen. Theresa Thibodeau, appointed to the District 6 seat last year by Ricketts after Sen. Joni Craighead resigned from the Legislature, held onto a 10-point advantage over challenger Machaela Cavanaugh.

Both Thibodeau and Cavanaugh advanced to November's election, while a third candidate, Ricky Fulton, was eliminated.

Another governor-backed candidate also won over a former Ricketts foe in the District 16 race.

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Ben Hansen surged past Chuck Hassebrook, who ran for governor against Ricketts in 2014, to earn nearly 59 percent of the vote by 11 p.m. Both candidates advanced to November's general election.

But state Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, who spoke at a fundraising event hosted for Ricketts in March that featured Vice President Mike Pence, fell behind the senator he replaced for the District 12 seat in the Legislature four years ago.

Former state Sen. Steve Lathrop, who left the Legislature four years ago due to Nebraska's term limit law, carried 55.7 percent of the vote by 11 p.m., according to the unofficial results posted on the Nebraska Secretary of State's website.

Incumbent Sens. Brett Lindstrom and John McCollister easily won the primaries in Districts 18 and 20, respectively.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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