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Election 2018 Governor Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts smiles during a campaign stop in November. After winning re-election, Ricketts will head the nation's Republican governors.

Gov. Pete Ricketts was elected Thursday to be chairman of the national Republican Governors Association for 2019.

"The RGA is the most effective political organization in the country," Ricketts said, "and I am honored to serve as RGA chairman for 2019."

"Republican governors are delivering results, achieving meaningful reform, making government more efficient and effective, and moving their states forward," he added.

"I am deeply honored to serve in this role as we work together to help Republicans elect even more reform-minded leaders across America over the next year."

Ricketts, who was re-elected to a second term as governor earlier this month, was selected as Republican Governors Association chairman at the group's convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In a panel discussion at the event, Ricketts and other recently re-elected GOP governors including Doug Ducey of Arizona, Greg Abbott of Texas, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas didn't mention President Donald Trump.

The Associated Press reported that Ricketts and the other Republican governors minimized any suggestion that voter discontent with Trump played a role in the midterm elections, where Democrats flipped seven governorships and took control of the U.S. House.

"I don't think what you saw in this electoral cycle was any different that would you see" in any midterm, Ricketts said.

Ricketts noted that two years after Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, the GOP gained more than 60 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ducey called the Republican losses a "somewhat predictable" result of having a GOP president in power.

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Some of the biggest upsets in the gubernatorial elections were in the Midwest, with Democrats defeating Bruce Rauner in Illinois and Scott Walker in Wisconsin while capturing open seats held by Republicans in Michigan and Kansas. Democrats also flipped control of governors' offices being vacated by Republicans in Maine, Nevada and New Mexico.

Come January, there will be 27 Republican governors across the country.

Ricketts held out hope for GOP gains in some of the 14 gubernatorial races in the next two years.

"Gov. Pete Ricketts has been an outstanding leader for Nebraska," said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, the outgoing Republican Governors Association chairman. "I know he will translate that success" into leading the Republican governors in 2019.

Ricketts assumed the Republican Governors Association chairmanship immediately and will serve for one year. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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