With no Democrats seeking the office of state treasurer, the Republican primary between Gretna Sen. John Murante and Omaha financial adviser Taylor Royal will determine who will serve in that position for the next four years.
After sitting down with both candidates and discussing their goals if elected, this primary race comes down to visions for the treasurer’s office. In the end, it boils down to whether Nebraskans would be better served by someone with government or finance experience.
For that reason, the Journal Star editorial board is endorsing Murante.
The second-term state senator chairs the Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. As such, he’s familiar with the ins and outs of how state government works and strikes us as the better of two good options to replace State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who’s term-limited.
Royal laid out a strong vision for improving returns on the state’s 529 plans and transparency for taxpayers. We found him to be energetic and well-spoken, the latter at odds with how his unsuccessful 2017 bid to be Omaha mayor was sometimes portrayed.
However, Murante’s experience at the Capitol is an asset Royal simply doesn’t have.
Even though this constitutional office is elected on a partisan basis, the treasurer’s day-to-day duties are apolitical. Still, navigating what Murante called the “healthy, inherent tension” between the legislative and executive branches is a key skill.
The senator displayed ample knowledge of the treasurer’s duties, proposing solid ideas for how to handle the upcoming renegotiation of the state contract for managing 529 plan dollars, financial literacy for Nebraskans and ongoing construction work at the Capitol that will temporarily displace the physical office.
Murante also pledged to invest in technology improvements, including increased usability of Nebraska’s state spending website. Such a move would upgrade the office’s transparency.
Nebraskans deserve the most open government possible — so we encourage him to uphold this if elected.