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Peter Ricketts-Bob Krist mugs

Gov. Pete Ricketts (left) and state Sen. Bob Krist

OMAHA — Gov. Pete Ricketts and Democratic challenger Bob Krist met on the same stage Sunday, probably for the last time, and the result featured less fireworks and more a controlled burn.

The Republican governor and the Democratic nominee stood at separate podiums before a polite audience that was largely composed of members of the congregation of Temple Israel in west Omaha to separately answer a few prepared questions with no opportunity for interchange or rebuttal.

While Ricketts said his vision is to "grow Nebraska" with a future that features more good-paying jobs, Krist said "I don't believe we're on the right track," arguing for a more focused workforce development structure.

Ricketts noted he has encouraged a new emphasis on education programs that provide workforce training while also cutting the growth of state government funding by 90 percent and increasing property tax refunds.

Krist said he would "restore some funding that's been cut from people with needs," arguing that the state has an obligation to help protect "the most vulnerable."

The governor said he has spearheaded reforms that treat people who need government services with more efficient service and more respect.

Ricketts noted he has worked to increase markets for Nebraska products, including agricultural exports, with a series of successful trade missions. 

Krist said his 10 years in the Legislature have given him the experience that's needed to build consensus that can achieve results.

The two opponents shook hands twice during their encounter at what essentially was a low-key, introductory get-together featuring general election candidates who introduced themselves and then answered several prepared questions with brief time limits and rules that precluded any engagement.

And then the governor and his opponent headed their separate ways.

Sunday's forum was one of three joint appearances that the governor had agreed to at the beginning of the general election campaign. 

A scheduled event in Wayne was subsequently cancelled after an argument over the details of statewide TV coverage, leaving a debate at the State Fair in Grand Island in August as the only other scheduled joint appearance and the sole candidate debate.

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Democratic Senate nominee Jane Raybould told the audience she would have voted no on the Senate confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as U.S. Supreme Court justice when she was asked a prepared question, prompting a round of applause.

Kavanaugh engaged in "alarming testimony" during the final hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Raybould said, providing evidence that "he could not be an impartial umpire" in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Answering another prepared question, Raybould said she would "favor a two-state solution" in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Republican Sen. Deb Fischer did not participate in the event.

A host of legislative candidates introduced themselves and answered prepared questions during what was billed as a Jewish Community Candidate Forum. 

Prior to the event conducted in the modern glass-walled temple, candidates mixed with members of the audience in a meeting room, with signs identifying them. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

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

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