Pete Ricketts Jeopardizing Omaha Economy Over Georgia Sore Loser Law

Pete Ricketts’ incompetence could cost Omaha over $164 million.

Over the weekend Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts tweeted: “Nebraska stands with Georgia and supports their work to promote integrity and access in voting.” The response to his tweet was immediate — numerous people went on his twitter account and made it clear that they don’t stand with Georgia’s effort to suppress the vote and its sore loser election law.

According to the New York Times, the Georgia law places “numerous new limits on vote-by-mail, cuts way back on drop boxes and mobile voting units, and bans third-party groups from sharing food and water with people in voting lines.”

Georgia’s new election law caused a firestorm of criticism because it not only makes it harder for people to vote but it also gives authority to state elected officials to interfere in county election offices and even throw out votes. Under this law, the Georgia GOP elected officials may have “found” the 11,000 votes that Trump demanded.

Nebraska “standing with Georgia” in this environment is a ticket to the College World Series & Olympic Swim Trials pulling out of town, major corporations refusing to move here & even more young people fleeing the state. Brad Dickson tweet.

Ricketts is jeopardizing the College World Series and Olympic Swim Trials over a non-existent “crisis.” The reality is that voter fraud is virtually non-existent. A commission set up by the Trump Administration to investigate alleged voter fraud and to validate Trump’s false claim that he lost the popular vote due to alleged voter fraud was disbanded in 2018. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a member of the commission, blasted the now defunct commission.

After Dunlap reviewed the documents supplied by the commission, he said that: “They do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud.” Dunlap was puzzled why the GOP members of the commission continued to make claims that voter fraud was widespread. “Where are the indictments, where are the prosecutions?” Dunlap asked.

Dunlap’s findings on the lack of voter fraud have been evident for years. The Bush Administration conducted a five year investigation of alleged voter fraud and found virtually no evidence of any efforts to influence elections. A 2014 study by Loyola Law School found only 31 incidents of in-person voter fraud since 2000 out of 1 billion ballots cast. In the 2016 election cycle, there were only four reported cases of in-person voter fraud out of 135 million ballots cast.

Recent history teaches us that Ricketts is playing with fire. In 2016, the NCAA threatened to pull its tournaments out of North Carolina over a discriminatory LGBT bathroom law. North Carolina prudently beat a hasty retreat and repealed the offending law.

Indiana had a similar run in with the NCAA when Mike Pence was governor in 2015. The NCAA threatened to boycott Indiana when Pence signed a bill that would’ve have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay patrons based upon so-called religious grounds. Pence and the Indiana legislature modified the law to allay the NCAA’s concerns.

With his support for Georgia’s sore loser election law, Ricketts is running the kinds of risks run by right wing religious radicals in North Carolina and Indiana. The NCAA could very well threaten to pull the College World Series out of Omaha.

That would have a devastating impact on the already struggling Omaha economy. The annual economic impact for Omaha of the CWS is around $90 million per year. Losing the CWS for two years in a row would be a huge blow to Omaha’s economy and people. It would be devastating for local morale during a once in a century pandemic.

Ricketts’ folly may even jeopardize Omaha hosting the Olympic Swim Trials. In 2016, the swim trials had a $74 million economic impact and an even bigger impact is expected in 2021. Once again, a boycott in this instance would hurt an already reeling city.

Nebraska’s billionaire governor has blown a huge economic opportunity for Omaha. As Jane Kleeb tweeted: “Ricketts should have said “hey come to Nebraska, we don’t have a voter-id law” and we could have financially benefited. Instead…he acts like a radical believer in the big lie his party pushes to suppress the vote.” If Ricketts had played his hand well, Omaha would have a shot at landing the Major League Baseball All Star game. Instead, Ricketts is prioritizing his selfish political interests over his own hometown.

Ricketts is on the front line of the GOP’s phony culture wars because he is considering a run for higher office. He may run for the U.S. Senate or even president in 2024. That’s why he has been a regular at right wing conferences like the NRA and CPAC. Apparently, Ricketts is willing to throw Omaha under the bus to advance his political fortunes.

I would advise everybody to stay engaged. Call your state senator and let him/her know what you think about Ricketts’ failed agenda. Please get involved in the city elections in Omaha and Lincoln this year. Let’s lay the groundwork for a win in 2022. Republicans never take a day off. Now let’s leave it all out on the field!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store