Pete Ricketts leads the field in fundraising for governor's race -
Published Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 5:30 pm
Campaign 2014
Pete Ricketts leads the field in fundraising for governor's race

Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts raked in nearly $1.4 million for his campaign coffers last year, taking an early money lead among the six Republicans running for Nebraska governor.

Beau McCoy came in second, raising $794,000. Of that, $590,000 was given by a single donor.

Mike Foley ($335,000) and Bryan Slone ($328,000) came in a distant third and fourth, according to campaign reports filed Friday with Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Slone got some sizable help from the Omaha business community, while Foley got a $100,000 donation from an elderly Lincoln woman and $81,000 transferred from previous campaigns.

Candidates had until Friday to file their first financial reports, which included all the money they raised last year.

The reports were filed as another Republican candidate considers a last-minute bid.

Attorney General Jon Bruning has said he is “strongly considering” a run. He has said that he plans to spend the next few days talking to donors and others about entering the race.

If Bruning runs, he will have the money to compete. He ended last year with $854,000 in his campaign coffers in preparation for a re-election bid as attorney general. That money can be transferred into a campaign for governor, according to state law.

The interest in this year's GOP governor's primary comes as Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman prepares to step down next January due to term limits.

The GOP primary has no clear-­cut front-runner, even though the May 13 primary is a little more than three months away.

The primary winner will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in the fall campaign. Hassebrook is the lone Democrat on the ticket. He had earlier reported that he raised $525,000, ending the reporting period with $281,000 in his war chest.

Ricketts drew on both state and national contacts, as well as his family, to raise his cash. Overall, about 10 members of Ricketts' family donated a total of $168,000 to his campaign. That included a $25,000 contribution from Ricketts' wife, Susanne Shore.

Ricketts is the wealthiest candidate in the field. His father founded the company now known as TD Ameritrade, and his family owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

In 2006, Ricketts spent more than $12 million of his own money on a failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat. He has vowed not to spend as much of his own money in this year's governor's race, although he has left the door open to spending some.

McCoy, who owns a roofing and construction business in Elkhorn, would have been at the back of the fundraising pack if not for a $590,000 contribution from Falls City businessman Charles Herbster.

Herbster had briefly mounted his own governor's campaign last year but dropped out, citing his wife's illness. On the day he got out, McCoy jumped into the race. At the time, many of Herbster's campaign workers went to work for McCoy.

Later, Herbster took the cash that he had donated to his own campaign and gave it to McCoy's campaign.

Overall, McCoy raised about $204,000 without Herbster's help.

The newest candidate in the race, Bryan Slone, received contributions from some of Omaha's biggest corporations. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska donated $10,000 to Slone, while First National Bank gave $15,000. The Kiewit Corporation donated $20,000.

Slone, who got into the race in December, is a former tax accountant with Deloitte Tax. He had $254,000 in the bank at the end of the year.

Foley, who is Nebraska's state auditor, received a $100,000 donation from Marguerite Kellett, 85, a retired Lincoln nurse and former professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is actively involved in Lincoln's Catholic community.

Foley said Kellett taught his wife when she was in nursing school.

Foley ended the year with $298,000 in the bank.

State Sens. Tom Carlson and Charlie Janssen also reported strong fundraising numbers but ended the period with substantially less money than the other candidates.

Carlson, a financial adviser from Holdrege, raised $241,000. He ended the year with $157,000 in the bank.

Janssen, a former city councilman from Fremont, was the first candidate to enter the race. He raised a total of $317,000, which included $77,000 from the previous year. Of his total contributions, $132,000 either came from his own personal bank account or was a loan from his medical records business. He had $74,000 in the bank.

Republican governor candidates' campaign funds

Pete Ricketts:
Raised: $1,388,000
($168,000 from family)
Cash on hand: $932,000

Beau McCoy
Raised: $794,000
($590,000 from Charles Herbster campaign)
Cash on hand: $519,000

Mike Foley
Raised: $335,000
(Includes $81,000 from past campaigns)
Cash on hand: $298,000

Bryan Slone
Raised: $328,000
Cash on hand: $254,000
Tom Carlson
Raised: $241,000
Cash on hand: $157,000

Charlie Janssen
Raised: $317,000
Cash on hand: $74,000

Source: Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission reports, fourth quarter 2012

Contact the writer: Robynn Tysver    |   402-444-1309    |  

Robynn is's elections writer. She's covered presidential politics in Iowa's caucuses, and gubernatorial and Senate races in Nebraska.

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