The nonpartisan Nebraska State Capitol
The Nebraska State Capitol building. Photo by Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service

Nebraska voters flocked to the polls, mailed in or dropped off ballots and decided crucial races that will shape the trajectory of the state.

At the top of the ticket, Republican Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent, will be the state’s next governor. Joe Kelly, an attorney, is his lieutenant governor.

Incumbent Secretary of State Bob Evnen and State Treasurer John Murante also won reelection. Lt. Gov. Mike Foley will return as Auditor of Public Accounts.

In addition, all three Republican incumbents in Nebraska’s U.S. House delegation won reelection: Reps. Mike Flood of the 1st Congressional District, Don Bacon of the 2nd Congressional District and Adrian Smith of the 3rd Congressional District.

Incumbents also won across the board for the Nebraska Legislature and University of Nebraska Board of Regents, as did Kirk Penner and Deborah Neary for the State Board of Education. Challenger Elizabeth Tegtmeier of North Platte defeated incumbent Robin Stevens, District 7 Board of Education member.

Check out the full slate of winners across the state below or click here to view online.

Nebraska voters approve ballot initiatives, constitutional amendment

Nebraska voters also overwhelmingly approved two ballot initiatives and a constitutional amendment.

Nebraska’s $9 an hour minimum wage will increase incrementally through 2026 to $15 an hour. The wage would then be adjusted annually per cost of living. Each year, the minimum wage will increase by $1.50, increasing to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2023.

Nebraskans will also be required to present photo identification to vote in future elections. Nebraska state senators will determine these specifications, including what would be allowed and under what circumstances, in the next session.

Finally, a constitutional amendment that is intended to help expand passenger air service in the state’s airports passed. The state constitution has now been amended, and any city, county or other political subdivision that owns or operates an airport can expend revenues to encourage or develop new or expanded commercial passenger air services.

Full election results from the Nebraska Secretary of State are available here.

Nebraska Legislature down to two races to decide partisan influence

Two races as of Sunday, Nov. 13, also remain to be called: Districts 20 and 26 for the Nebraska Legislature. The Omaha-based District 20 seat is to succeed State Sen. John McCollister, while the Lincoln-based District 26 seat is to succeed State Sen. Matt Hansen.

Stu Dornan and John Fredrickson are vying for the District 20 seat, while Russ Barger and George Dungan are vying for the District 26 seat.

Fredrickson and Dungan, both Democrats, each hold slight leads over their opponents. Additional votes remain to be counted in Douglas and Lancaster counties, respectively, though it’s unclear how many votes remain in each district.

Senator-elect Jane Raybould of Lincoln, a current Lincoln City Council member who will succeed State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, said the day after the election that she is excited and ready to get going.

“There’s just tremendous eagerness to really do good for our constituents, do good for our state,” Raybould said. “The folks I’ve spoken with today are excited and are looking forward to continuing their public service.”

Read more from the Nebraska News Service here and read below for messages from returning senators and senator elects to the rest of the state. Click here to view online.

Bacon looks ahead to fourth term, potential Republican majority

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon of Omaha is looking ahead to his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives after fending off a challenge from Democratic State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha.

While control of the House is still to be determined, it favors Republicans, and Bacon is setting top sights on helping Offutt Air Force Base construction while stopping “out-of-control” spending. Bacon said Congress will also force President Joe Biden to deal with the border with Mexico and address energy concerns.

Closer to home, Bacon is optimistic about Republican Jim Pillen’s victory for governor. He also commented on the impending resignation of Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who has been confirmed as the next president of the University of Florida.

Bacon said he would like to see someone with the same caliber of work ethic as fellow U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and that he’d support Pillen’s appointment.

Bacon also addressed fewer-than-expected Republican victories nationwide, considering Biden’s low approval ratings. The congressman said Republicans need to figure out what happened and understand the disparity.

Read more from the Nebraska News Service here.

National news: Democrats projected to retain control of U.S. Senate

Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is projected to win reelection, positioning Democrats to retain control of the chamber.

Late in the evening on Saturday, Nov. 12, Associated Press projections placed Cortez Masto ahead of challenger Blake Masters, a Republican.

With Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote and 50 secured Democratic seats, the party has control. 

A runoff election in Georgia between Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker on Dec. 6 will determine whether Democrats maintain 50 or 51 seats. A 51-seat margin would mean Democrats would not need to cut a deal on how to organize committees or other procedural matters.

As of Monday morning on Nov. 14 at 8 a.m., U.S. House control is split with 212 Republicans and 204 Democrats, and 19 undecided seats. Control requires 218 seats, and Republicans had won or were leading in 222 races, according to The New York Times’ projections.

Read more from States Newsroom D.C. Bureau reporter Jacob Fischler here.

Nebraska News Service live blog, KRNU and Nebraska Nightly newscasts

Catch up on live election coverage from students in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications through Nebraska News Service.

NNS provided a live blog throughout election night, featuring vignettes from residents and updates on key races statewide. 

The live blog also features pre-produced audio reports from a CoJMC course for the 90.3 KRNU radio station. Photographs from campaign parties in Ashland, Norfolk, Lincoln and Omaha also take center stage.

The Nebraska Nightly student-led broadcast also went live multiple times throughout the evening with eight cut-ins at 5, 6, 7, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m. UNL political science professors were also on hand for live analysis.

Read more from the Nebraska News Service team here.

Zach Wendling is a senior journalism and political science double major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln focused on political, policy and governance reporting. He is the spring 2023 intern for the Nebraska Examiner and has been published in publications across the state as part of the Nebraska News Service. Wendling interned for The Hill and The News Station in Washington, D.C. and worked for The Daily Nebraskan at UNL. He is one of the founding members and inaugural president of UNL's new campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.