Trump Pushes Nebraska Republicans to Make It Harder for Biden to Win

  • Donald Trump has lent his support to a last-minute initiative aimed at making it more difficult for Joe Biden to win.
  • Trump wants Nebraska Republicans to change their laws so Biden can’t win a vote in the state’s electoral college.
  • Biden’s easiest path to re-election is to create a congressional district in the Omaha area.

Former President Donald Trump is backing a last-minute change to Nebraska election law that could deprive President Joe Biden of a potential Electoral College vote that would loom large in a tight race.

Trump praised Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen for throwing his support behind a bill that would end Nebraska’s decades-long practice of allowing a portion of the state’s electoral college votes to be won by winning the popular vote in one of Nebraska’s three congressional districts.

“A very intelligent letter from Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska! ” Trump wrote on Truth Social Tuesday evening, attaching a copy of Pillen’s statement.

Democrats have twice won Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, based in the Omaha metro area, most recently in 2020. The rest of the state is strongly conservative and has consistently given its other four electoral votes to women. Republican candidates. The GOP was largely successful in retaining the district’s congressional seat, with Rep. Don Bacon, a centrist Republican, winning his fourth term in 2022.

As Semafor first reported, Pillen was following up on Charlie Kirk’s call for Nebraska lawmakers to pass the legislation before the end of the current session. Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, is a key Trump ally. In his statement, Pillen said he supported the legislation “from the beginning.”

“It would bring Nebraska closer to that of 48 of our fellow states, better reflect the intent of the Founders and ensure our state speaks with one voice in presidential elections,” Pillen said.

Republicans could make Biden’s re-election more difficult if they succeed in changing the law.

Biden’s easiest line for a second term is to repeat his victories in the so-called Blue Wall states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, then win the Omaha metro area district again. In this scenario, Trump could flip Georgia, Arizona and Nevada while still falling short of the White House.

If Republicans were to change Nebraska’s laws, under the same scenario, the Electoral College vote would be 269 to 269, sending the presidential outcome to the newly elected House of Representatives.

It’s worth being skeptical about the Republicans’ ability to pass this bill.

Nebraska Republicans have been gnashing their teeth over this law for years. They acknowledge that it is embarrassing for a strongly conservative state that hasn’t had a Democratic governor in 24 years or a Democratic senator in a decade to hand one of its Electoral College votes to a Democrat. After President Barack Obama narrowly won the 2nd District in 2008, there were multiple efforts to change the law. They missed.

Current legislation to change the law was introduced last January and has remained largely in limbo since then.

It’s harder for Republicans to change the law because of another quirk that makes the Cornhusker State exceptional in American politics: It has only one legislative chamber.

State Democrats have also long blocked or significantly slowed down proposals from the officially nonpartisan unicameral through the filibuster. Just like in Congress, Nebraska’s filibuster is a powerful tool for the minority. The Republicans effectively control only 32 votes, a majority proof of the systematic obstruction.

In 2023, State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh endured the longest filibuster in state history in an effort to block a bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors. A version of the legislation that banned most abortions after 12 weeks eventually passed, but the filibuster virtually paralyzed the Legislature for weeks.

The other bad news for Nebraska Republicans is that the 60-day session is just days away from closing. Pillen’s tax plan, a top priority, is also still up in the air. That’s why Sen. Megan Hunt said Democrats shouldn’t worry.

“Live from the trenches, don’t worry, we’re not getting rid of our unique voting system in Nebraska. Legislatively, we just don’t have time,” Hunt, a progressive lawmaker, wrote on . “There’s nothing to worry about this year. . #NELeg.”

Charles Herbster

Charles Herbster, then a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska, smiles during an event with former President Donald Trump ahead of the state’s 2020 Republican primary.

Getty Images

Pillen also has political incentives to show he is trying to change the law. A former member of the state’s Board of Regents, Pillen defeated Trump’s favored businessman gubernatorial candidate, Charles Herbster, in a contentious 2022 Nebraska Republican primary. Pillen went on to nominate the new Governor Pete Ricketts for the U.S. Senate, a move that angered some Nebraska Republicans given that Ricketts had supported Pillen over Herbster. Pillen has denied that anything nefarious happened during this appointment.

It’s worth noting that Trump benefited from Maine, the only other state to award a portion of its Electoral College votes under the congressional district approach. The former president carried Maine’s 2nd District in 2016 and 2020.


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