OMAHA -- To bursts of applause inside a downtown Omaha hotel ballroom Tuesday evening, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged a crowd of 350 to turn out for Gov. Pete Ricketts’ re-election bid this November.
“Nebraska needs four more years of Gov. Pete Ricketts,” Pence said, drawing the largest applause of the night at a fundraising event where VIP seats and a photo with the vice president fetched $20,000.
Earlier Tuesday, the former Indiana governor and congressman, who said he befriended Ricketts years ago, touted the accomplishments of his boss, President Donald Trump, at an economic round-table discussion in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Pence recycled the highlights of Trump’s 13-plus months in the Oval Office for Nebraska Republicans on Tuesday night in his lead-up to a pitch for why Ricketts deserves another term leading the Cornhusker State.
Tax cuts and slashing government regulations, both at the federal and state levels, has contributed to “an all-time high” confidence among small-business owners, unemployment levels at a 17-year low, and wage growth at its most rapid since the waning years of President George W. Bush, according to Pence.
“And we’re just getting started,” the vice president added.
Nebraska was reaping the results, Pence said. He cited the $1,000 bonuses Nelnet awarded to its nearly 4,100 employees after Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, as well as bonuses doled out by Pinnacle Bank.
Corporations such as Union Pacific would save an estimated $6 billion in taxes this year, he added, and Warren Buffett, who just announced the tax cuts created a $29 billion windfall for Berkshire Hathaway, said the legislation created a “huge tailwind for American business.”
Pence told the crowd that a vote for Ricketts was a vote to continue bringing back a “stronger, more prosperous and safer” Nebraska and nation.
“I want to encourage all of the men and women who lead businesses in the city and on the farm all across Nebraska to leave here tonight and go tell somebody,” Pence said. “I want you to talk about that record of success, because it’s not our administration’s record, it’s not the governor’s record, it’s all of our record of success.
“Together we are bringing Nebraska back, together we are bringing back the American economy and American strength back,” he added.
After dinner, Ricketts made his pitch, saying a vote to put him back in the governor’s office for four more years would be a vote to continue running Nebraska like a business.
“We’re supposed to be efficient and effective,” he said. “We’re supposed to be doing a good job of providing services, doing it in a way that is operationally excellent and controlling our costs at the same time just like the private sector does every day.”
Ricketts will likely advance from the May 15 primary to square off in the general election against the newly minted Democratic Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha.
He said he believes his approach as governor -- more like the CEO of a large, complicated business -- is helping draw more opportunities to the state.
Last year, more than $1 billion in business investments poured into the state, he said, creating more jobs “and allowing more Nebraska families to be able to enjoy the good life and pursue their dreams.
“Folks, that is what it’s all about at the end of the day.”