Charles Herbster, accused of sexually assaulting eight women, lost Tuesday to Regent Jim Pillen of the University of Nebraska in the Republican primary for governor of Nebraska.
The race was largely a three-way contest between Herbster, a millionaire agribusiness executive; State Sen. Brett Lindstrom and Pylen.
In 2021, Pilane introduced a proposal to withhold the teaching of critical race theory from the university system. However, the Board of Regents rejected it.
Yet much of the focus on race centered around Herbster – his association with Donald Trump and his controversies.
Herbster is a longtime donor and former president’s aide, and received a boost when Trump endorsed him late last year. Trump recently went to the state to campaign for him on May 1 and had tele-rally less than a week before the election.
Trump – who himself faces charges of rape, assault and harassment from even more women – called Herbster a “good man” and said “he is innocent of these heinous allegations.”
“I have to protect my friends, I have to protect the good ones,” he told the crowd. “These are malicious allegations to derail him long enough to have an election before a proper defense can be put forward.”
Herbster’s endorsement of Trump did not please many Republicans in the state. Last year, outgoing government Pete Ricketts (R) asked the former president to remain neutral. Ricketts later backed Pilane, saying that Herbster would be a “terrible governor”.
Eight women accused Herbster of groping her, including a state senator in her own party. State Sen. Julie Slama told the Nebraska Examiner that in 2019, she was at a GOP fundraising dinner when she was walking near Herbster. According to the examiner, “he climbed on her skirt without her consent, and touched her inappropriately.”
Another woman who attended the same dinner and has worked as a legislative aide in Nebraska said Herbster also assaulted her at the same dinner.
Elizabeth Todson said, “Over the years I have struggled with an experience with Charles W. Herbster.” “At a political event in 2019, Herbster sexually assaulted me while greeting me at my desk.”
Herbster took a page out of Trump’s playbook, denying the allegations and attacking the women who made the allegations. He even sued Slama for defamation, calling his claims “part of a larger plan calculated to try and defeat my candidacy.”
But the allegations took their toll and Herbster lost his momentum. All 13 women in the Nebraska state Senate – which includes both Democrats and Republicans – signed a letter saying Herbster’s alleged behavior was “totally unacceptable” and that he was “unfit to serve.”
Trump won Nebraska by 19 percentage points in the 2020 election, and has not had a Democratic governor in decades. In November, Pilane will face Democratic State Sen. Carol Blood.