New financial reports show that Charles W. Herbster, Conklin Co. CEO and one of the GOP front-runners in the race for Nebraska governor, continues to use millions of his own money to fund his campaign.
At this point, Herbster has donated more to his campaign than current Gov. Pete Ricketts spent — from all sources — on the primary and general election combined in 2014, the last time the governor’s seat was open.
Reports that were due Monday include financial information through April 5. They show Herbster has raised more than any candidate so far, mostly from his own pocket, followed by Jim Pillen, Columbus hog producer and University of Nebraska regent. Both are working with far more funding than any GOP candidate at this point in the 2014 race.
Herbster bankrolled his campaign to the tune of $4.2 million this year, his latest report shows. That’s in addition to $4.7 million he donated in 2021, for a total of $8.9 million.
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"Unlike other candidates, Charles will not owe anything to anyone once he gets into office," campaign spokesperson Emily Novotny said in a text message. "He will be accountable only to the people, not donors."
Herbster’s contributions dwarf any other source of funding for his campaign. This year, he received nearly $51,000 from other individuals, and $5,000 was the largest of those donations. That’s far less than what individual donors gave so far this year to other GOP contenders, including state Sen. Brett Lindstrom and former Sen. Theresa Thibodeau. It’s roughly even with Democratic candidate Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue.
In total, Herbster has raised and spent more than any other candidate. He's raised nearly $9.2 million, spent almost $8.7 million and ended this period with just more than $543,000 cash on hand.
Pillen, who has raised the second-most of any candidate, has also far outpaced candidates from 2014 at this point in the race.
An unofficial copy of Pillen’s report shows that he received more than $1.4 million in cash from individuals this year and nearly $972,000 from other sources, for a total just less than $2.4 million.
Over the course of the campaign, he’s contributed $1 million out of his own pocket and gotten nearly $4.2 million from individuals and almost $2.5 million from other sources, for a total of nearly $7.7 million in cash.
Pillen ramped up spending this year and has spent nearly $4.8 million over the course of the campaign. He ended the period with just more than $2.9 million cash on hand.
In January, he received a $100,000 donation from Ricketts, his most prominent backer. Other six-figure donations came from CQuence Health Group CEO Michael Cassling ($100,000), Werner Enterprises founder CL Werner ($250,000), and companies Commodity Solutions, EBM Construction and Morrison Enterprises.
Pillen’s campaign often emphasizes the number of donors responsible for his war chest. According to the campaign, Pillen has about 2,000 Nebraska donors. But not all of his donors come from in-state. Among them: Illinois GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, who gave $25,000.
Lindstrom, who has polled competitively, reported more than $385,000 in cash donations from individuals and nearly $35,000 from other sources so far this year, for a total of $420,000. His campaign spent more than $1.2 million.
Overall, the Lindstrom campaign has raised more than $1.9 million from individuals and just more than $99,000 from other sources, for a total of more than $2 million in cash.
In 2021, $1.2 million of his $1.6 million raised came from the three co-founders of Buildertrend, an Omaha software firm. None of the three are listed as donors who gave more than $250 so far in 2022.
His two biggest donors this year have given $100,000 apiece: George Haddix, a former CEO, president or founder of several companies, and James Timmerman, chief financial officer of cattle operation Timmerman & Sons Feeding Co.
About $33,000 of Lindstrom’s funding this year has come from individuals who donated less than $250. Lindstrom has now spent just more than $1.6 million and closed out this latest reporting period with more than $580,000 in cash on hand (he entered 2021 with just less than $165,000 cash on hand).
Thibodeau, who joined the race late, accelerated fundraising this year but is still well behind her GOP competition. Overall, she has raised nearly $285,000 in cash throughout the campaign and has spent nearly $240,000. She ended the period with about $62,000 cash on hand.
Democrat Blood raised nearly $50,000 from individuals and $200 from other sources so far this year. She spent more than $51,000. Overall, she has raised almost $124,000 in cash and has spent more than $88,000, ending this period with nearly $36,000 cash on hand.
At this point in the 2014 gubernatorial race, Ricketts had raised the most of any candidate with $3.4 million. He, his wife and his parents had contributed a total of $1.5 million
When the general election was over, Ricketts had spent $7.5 million and the Democrat he soundly defeated, Chuck Hassebrook, spent $3.2 million — the most money ever raised by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska history.
The candidates’ next reports are due May 2. The primary is May 10.