- For the senior British diplomat, see Peter Ricketts.
Ricketts in 2013
|40th Governor of Nebraska|
Assumed office |
January 8, 2015
|Preceded by||Dave Heineman|
John Peter Ricketts|
August 19, 1964
Nebraska City, Nebraska, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Chicago|
John Peter "Pete" Ricketts (born August 19, 1964) is the 40th and current Governor of the U.S. state of Nebraska, and the former chief operating officer of Ameritrade. He was the Republican nominee for the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Nebraska, which he lost to incumbent Ben Nelson. He ran for governor of Nebraska in the 2014 election, this time defeating the Democratic Party's nominee, Chuck Hassebrook. He was inaugurated as governor on January 8, 2015.
Ricketts was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and now lives in Omaha. He attended the University of Chicago for both his bachelor and graduate studies, and received an MBA in marketing and finance from the university's Graduate School of Business.
Ricketts and his wife Susanne have three children. Ricketts is the son of Marlene (Volkmer) and Joe Ricketts, founder of Ameritrade. Ricketts currently sits on the Boards of the Chicago Cubs and Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska. In 2007, he founded and became the Chairman of the Board of the Platte Institute for Economic Research. Ricketts resigned from the Platte Institute in order to run for Governor. He is also a former member of the Board of Trustees of the American Enterprise Institute.
2006 U.S. Senate campaign
Ricketts was the 2006 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held and retained by Democrat Ben Nelson. His opponents in the primary were former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg and former state Republican chairman David Kramer. Ricketts spent nearly $5 million of his own money out-of-pocket, outspending his opponents 10–1 in winning the nomination .
Ricketts received some high-profile campaign assistance, most notably from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush appeared at a campaign rally for Ricketts on November 5, 2006, just days before the election, in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Ricketts ran on a conservative platform, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, immigration reform, and agriculture, as well as championing a socially conservative platform opposing gay marriage and abortion. In all, he contributed $11,302,078 of his own money to his campaign, triggering the Millionaire's Amendment which allowed his opponent to raise larger amounts from each donor. He spent more money than any Senate candidate in Nebraska history, but was defeated by Nelson by a margin of 36%–64%.
Governor of Nebraska
Ricketts ran for governor of Nebraska in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Ricketts was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Nebraska governor Kay Orr. After a crowded primary, Ricketts won his party's nomination on May 13. He won the primary election with 26.5 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage on record for a Nebraska Republican gubernatorial primary victor. In the November 4, 2014, general election, he defeated Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, taking 58% of the vote to Hassebrook's 39%.
Ricketts was inaugurated as the 40th governor of Nebraska at the Nebraska State Capitol on January 8, 2015.
Among the "most significant" actions taken by the Legislature in its 2015 session were three bills that passed over Ricketts's veto. LB268 repealed the state's death penalty; LB623 reversed the state's previous policy of denying driver's licenses to people who were living illegally in the United States after being brought to the country as children, and who had been granted exemption from deportation under the Barack Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and LB610 increased the tax on gasoline to pay for repairs to roads and bridges.
Following the override of Ricketts's veto of the death-penalty repeal, capital-punishment proponents launched a petition drive to reverse the legislature's action. Their efforts gathered enough signatures to suspend the repeal until a public vote could be held. Capital-punishment opponents then filed a lawsuit arguing that the petition should be invalidated, on the grounds that Ricketts, who had contributed $200,000 to the campaign, was "the primary initiating force" for the petition drive, and should have been included in the list of sponsors required by Nebraska law. In February 2016, a Lancaster County district judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Ricketts's financial support of the petition effort did not, ipso facto, make him a sponsor. The plaintiffs appealed the issue to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The referendum was held in the general election of 2016; 61.2 percent of the population voted in favor of keeping the death penalty.
In its 2016 session, the legislature passed three bills that Ricketts then vetoed. LB580 would have created an independent commission of citizens to draw new district maps following censuses; supporters described it as an attempt to de-politicize the redistricting process, while Ricketts maintained that the bill delegated the legislature's constitutional duty of redistricting to "an unelected and unaccountable board". The bill's sponsor, John Murante, opted not to seek an override of the veto. A second vetoed bill, LB935, would have changed state audit procedures; it passed by a margin of 37–8, with 4 present and not voting. The bill was withdrawn without an attempt to override the veto; the state auditor agreed to work with the governor on a new version for the next year's session. A third bill, LB947, made DACA beneficiaries eligible for commercial and professional licenses in Nebraska. The bill passed the Legislature on a vote of 33–11–5; the veto override passed 31–13–5.
At the 2016 Republican state convention, Ricketts denounced several legislators who had failed to support his and the party's positions on various bills, and called for the election of more "platform Republicans" to the officially nonpartisan legislature. In response to this, thirteen legislators, including five registered Republicans, released a statement in which they accused Ricketts of placing partisanship above principle. One of the signers of the statement, Laura Ebke, changed her registration from Republican to Libertarian shortly thereafter, citing Ricketts's speech as one of the factors that drove her to make the change.
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- Hargesheimer v. Gale (Lancaster County (Nebraska) District Court, January 29, 2016). Text
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