Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that former Govs. Dave Heineman and Bob Kerrey should immediately apologize for "their shameful political attack" on Sen. Julie Slama of Peru after they accused her of engaging in "racist, negative campaigning" directed at her legislative opponent, Janet Palmtag of Syracuse.
"Dave Heineman and Bob Kerrey are wrong," Ricketts said in a brief written statement.
"Political attacks like this are why people are cynical about politics and why it's hard to get good people to run for political office," the governor said.
Slama was appointed to the Legislature by Ricketts in 2019 and is seeking election to a four-year term in November with the governor's strong support.
The sudden clash between Ricketts and Heineman, both Republicans, was startling. Kerrey is a former Democratic governor and U.S. senator; Ricketts succeeded Heineman as governor in 2015.
Kerrey and Heineman had accused Slama of engaging in the use of "race-baiting tactics" in her campaign literature.
In a letter to Slama, they pointed to the state senator's campaign flyer paid for by the Nebraska Republican Party that depicted photos of Palmtag and Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, along with a text that stated "Janet Palmtag sides with Lincoln liberals, atheists and radical extremists."
The photo of Chambers, the outspoken and controversial African American state senator from Omaha, was Photoshopped next to a photo of Palmtag.
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