Pete Ricketts

For the senior British diplomat, see Peter Ricketts.
Pete Ricketts

Ricketts in 2013
40th Governor of Nebraska
Assumed office
January 8, 2015
Lieutenant Mike Foley
Preceded by Dave Heineman
Personal details
Born John Peter Ricketts
(1964-08-19) August 19, 1964
Nebraska City, Nebraska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Chicago
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Government website

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.[1] He was the Republican nominee for the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Nebraska,[2] 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.

Personal life

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.[1]

Ricketts and his wife Susanne have three children. Ricketts is the son of Marlene (Volkmer) and Joe Ricketts, founder of Ameritrade.[3] 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.[4][5] He is also a former member of the Board of Trustees of the American Enterprise Institute.[6]

Ricketts' siblings are Todd Ricketts, Laura Ricketts, and Thomas S. Ricketts.

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 .[2]

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,[1] immigration reform,[7] and agriculture,[8] as well as championing a socially conservative platform opposing gay marriage[9] and abortion.[10] 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.[11][12] He spent more money than any Senate candidate in Nebraska history,[13] but was defeated by Nelson by a margin of 36%–64%.[14]

Governor of Nebraska

2014 campaign

Ricketts ran for governor of Nebraska in the 2014 gubernatorial election.[15] Ricketts was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Nebraska governor Kay Orr.[16] After a crowded primary, Ricketts won his party's nomination on May 13.[17] He won the primary election with 26.5 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage on record for a Nebraska Republican gubernatorial primary victor.[18] In the November 4, 2014, general election, he defeated Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, taking 58% of the vote to Hassebrook's 39%.[19]


Ricketts was inaugurated as the 40th governor of Nebraska at the Nebraska State Capitol on January 8, 2015.[20][21][22]

2015 session

Among the "most significant"[23] 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.[23][24][25]

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.[26][27] 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.[28][29][30] The plaintiffs appealed the issue to the Nebraska Supreme Court.[31] The referendum was held in the general election of 2016; 61.2 percent of the population voted in favor of keeping the death penalty.[32][33]

2016 session

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.[34][35][36] A second vetoed bill, LB935, would have changed state audit procedures; it passed by a margin of 378, 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.[34][37] A third bill, LB947, made DACA beneficiaries eligible for commercial and professional licenses in Nebraska. The bill passed the Legislature on a vote of 33115; the veto override passed 31135.[38][39]

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.[40][41][42]


  1. 1 2 3 Cordes, Henry J. (March 19, 2006). "For Ricketts, it's about earning what you get". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  2. 1 2 Cordes, Henry J. (May 10, 2006). "High-spending race for Senate ahead". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  3. Smith, Bryan. "The Ricketts Family Owns the Chicago Cubs: Who Are These People?". Chicago. June 24, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  4. Hammel, Paul (October 3, 2013). "Platte Institute: Overhauled Nebraska tax system could drive more jobs". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  5. Duggan, Joe (October 19, 2014). "After failed tuneup in 2006, Pete Ricketts says he's road-tested and ready to lead". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  6. Walton, Don (May 8, 2014). "Cheney says Ricketts would be great governor". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  7. Gonzalez, Cindy (October 13, 2006). "Ricketts criticized for immigrant idea". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  8. Walton, Don (March 2, 2006). "Ricketts proposes new agricultural savings accounts". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  9. Norman, Andrew. "GOP The Prelims: Candidates Spar Over the Details". The Reader. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  10. Walton, Don (September 19, 2006). "Ricketts pokes Nelson's pro-life credentials". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  11. Bratton, Anna Jo. "Ricketts' bid for office hits nearly $10M out of pocket". Columbus Telegram. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  12. Tysver, Robynn (October 16, 2006). "In last debate, Ricketts attacks Nelson tie to Columbus firm". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2006.
  13. Tysver, Robynn (September 21, 2006). "Ricketts digs deeper into wallet". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
  14. "United States Senator". Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  15. "Ricketts Running For Governor". WOWT. September 8, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  16. Reutter, Harold (April 5, 2014). Sarah Palin stops in G.I. to endorse Pete Ricketts, Grand Island Independent.
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  18. Ostermeier, Eric (May 14, 2014). "Ricketts Wins Nebraska GOP Gubernatorial Nod with Lowest Support in State History". Smart Politics.
  19. "Governor's race results". Nebraska Secretary of State. November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  20. "Pete Ricketts Sworn In as Governor". January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  21. Associated Press (January 8, 2015) – "Pete Ricketts Sworn in as 40th Governor of Nebraska". Kearney Hub. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  22. Stoddard, Martha (January 8, 2015) – "Q&A: Pete Ricketts Offers Glimpse of His Vision for Nebraska". Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  23. 1 2 Knapp, Fred (June 3, 2015). "2015 Legislature Leaves Its Mark On Nebraska". NET (Nebraska public radio and television). Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  24. Walton, Don (May 28, 2015). "Senators override Ricketts' veto of Dreamers licenses". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  25. Pluhacek, Zach (May 7, 2015). "Gas tax hike gets Nebraska lawmakers' OK, governor's veto". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  26. Martin, Brent (September 29, 2015). "Gov. Ricketts denies being a sponsor of the death penalty petition drive". Nebraska Radio Network. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  27. Duggan, Joe (November 16, 2015). "Ricketts' involvement in death penalty petition argued in lawsuit". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  28. Duggan, Joe. "Judge dismisses lawsuit claiming death penalty voter petition drive is invalid". Omaha World-Herald. February 1, 2016. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  29. Pilger, Lori. "Judge dismisses suit challenging death-penalty question going to voters". Lincoln Journal Star. February 1, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  30. Hargesheimer v. Gale (Lancaster County (Nebraska) District Court, January 29, 2016). Text
  31. Duggan, Joe. "Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over whether ballot initiative to reinstate death penalty is valid". Omaha World-Herald. May 26, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  32. "Nebraska Referendum 426 — Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal Veto — Results: Rejected". The New York Times. November 21, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  33. Berman, Mark (November 9, 2016). "Nebraska and California Voters Decide to Keep the Death Penalty". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  34. 1 2 Matheny, Ryan. "Nebraska legislators wrap up 2016 session". KMA. April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  35. Nohr, Emily. "'Unconstitutional, unelected and unaccountable': Ricketts vetoes bill to revamp how political maps are drawn". Omaha World-Herald. April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  36. "Independent redistricting commission vetoed, no override attempt offered". Unicameral Update. April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  37. "Legislative Journal: Carryover Legislation". pp. 157980. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  38. Duggan, Joe. "Legislature to vote on overriding veto on bill that would allow work licenses for those brought to U.S. illegally as kids". Omaha World-Herald. April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  39. "Legislative Journal: Carryover Legislation". Passage of LB947 is on p. 1614; the veto override is on pp. 163738. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  40. Szalewski, Susan. "Responding to Ricketts' 'platform Republicans' comment, 13 Nebraska lawmakers call for nonpartisanship". Omaha World-Herald. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  41. Duggan, Joe. "'Frustrated' State Sen. Laura Ebke switches from Republican to Libertarian". Omaha World-Herald. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  42. Walton, Don. "Ebke bolts GOP after Ricketts speec". Lincoln Journal Star. June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
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