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Sen. John Murante of Gretna defeated 28-year-old political newcomer Taylor Royal of Omaha on Tuesday in a Republican primary match that will move the victor into the office of state treasurer next January.  

The GOP contest attracted unusual attention for a so-called "down ballot" state office because the nominee has a clear path to election in November with no Democratic opponent standing in the way.

The battle between Murante, a two-term state senator, and Royal, who made a bid for mayor of Omaha in 2017, brought high-profile Republican leaders into the fray.

While Murante benefited from support voiced by Gov. Pete Ricketts and a number of other high-profile Republican state leaders who joined the governor in a flood of 30-second TV ads, Royal was endorsed by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, who defeated him a year ago.

With Murante halfway through his second and final term as a state senator, his election as treasurer will open up the 49th District seat and give Ricketts an opportunity to appoint a senator to complete the last two years of the legislative term.

A reliable conservative voice and vote in the Legislature, Murante has been chairman of its Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, placing him in position to lead the way in proposing election reforms.

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Royal, an Omaha financial adviser, ran third in last year's Omaha mayor's race and then vigorously endorsed Stothert in her general election showdown with Heath Mello. The mayor, in turn, has described Royal as "a rising star in the Republican Party."

His experience as a financial adviser at Northwestern Mutual, a financial services and wealth management firm in Omaha, has prepared him to be "an effective steward of taxpayer resources," Royal argued. 

State Treasurer Don Stenberg will be term-limited out of office at the end of the year after serving two four-year terms. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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