FREMONT — Charles Herbster wants you to know about his roots.
The Falls City native said he has deep ties to agriculture and manufacturing and you can find him at his farm from sunrise to sunset when he's in Falls City.
He even beat Orion Samuelson, a retired American broadcaster widely known for his agriculture broadcasts, in a hand-milking contest in 1998.
Herbster talked about those grass-fed roots Monday as he announced his bid for the Republican nomination for governor at the Heartland Country Barn.
"We are going to fight for the best Nebraska we've ever had tax-wise, education-wise, immigration and all the things that are important to us," he said. "I love this state."
Herbster operates Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City and is the owner and CEO of Conklin, a Kansas City-based agriculture and manufacturing distribution company.
He touted his close political ties to former President Donald Trump. In 2016, Herbster met with Trump as he prepared to enter the presidential race and later served as the chairman to his Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee.
Herbster said his friendship with the former president dates back to 2005. He said his loyalty to Trump runs deep.
"Everybody said: 'You're going to run for governor? You have to take the Trump (license) plates off,'" he said. "And this is how loyal I am to the 45th president of the United States, I said: 'If it's the difference between being disloyal to President Trump or becoming governor of Nebraska, I will not be disloyal to the 45th president."
That support was reciprocated Monday, as Trump's former senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, appeared on stage with Herbster.
"I know what is in (Herbster's) heart: unconditional love," she said. "Really for everyone around here, including the great state of Nebraska, where he and his family have been for many, many years."
Conway said Herbster believes in "liberty and justice for all" and believes in keeping the good life great "for all Nebraskans."
Herbster introduced his running mate, Theresa Thibodeau, who was appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts to represent Omaha's District 6 in the Legislature in 2017. She lost a reelection bid in 2018 to Machaela Cavanaugh.
"He knows how hard you work," Thibodeau told the crowd. "He knows what you do day in and day out. He has experienced it himself on the farm and in his businesses. He signs both sides of the paycheck."
Herbster said his mission is to make Nebraska "an even greater state than it is."
"We know this is going to be difficult," he said. "We know the system hates us. We know how it is in politics. We understand all of that. But we believe in the people in Nebraska more than all of that. It's not about us, it's about a purpose and a mission."
Herbster said in an interview that his passion lies in agriculture. He hopes that resonates with Nebraskans.
"I combine, I pull calves and I farm," he said. "It's my love. If you were to ask me what I would give up of all the various things that I do, the one thing I wouldn't give up is my rural life in Falls City, Nebraska."
Herbster is the second person to officially enter the Republican gubernatorial race. University of Nebraska regent and former Husker football player Jim Pillen announced his candidacy earlier this month.
Former Gov. Dave Heineman, state Sen. Brett Lindstrom and Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, are also on the list of potential GOP candidates.
Gov. Pete Ricketts is entering the final stretch of his second four-year term and will be term-limited out of office at the end of 2022.
Herbster said the decision to run is also fueled by the actions of the federal government since Democratic President Joe Biden took office.
"Every governor in America, if they're going to maintain freedom in their state, is going to have to push back against federal regulations," he said. "There is no question in my mind about it."