The Nebraska State Capitol pictured at sunset on Feb. 17, 2022.
The Nebraska State Capitol pictured at sunset on Feb. 17, 2022. Photo by Zach Wendling/NNS.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame Committee voted 4-3 to add Malcolm X as its next inductee, adding the civil rights leader after he had been nominated twice earlier.

According to the Nebraska Examiner, the Hall currently has 26 members — five are female, three are Native American — and Malcolm X will become the first African American. 

The commission also considered inducting Louise Pound, an educator, folklorist and author at the University of Nebraska. Pound is also the only woman in NU history to earn a letter in a men’s sport: tennis. Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Paul Hammel here.

State Sen. Suzanne Geist first to announce candidacy for Lincoln mayor

State Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln officially announced for bid for the 2023 Lincoln mayoral race.

Geist, a Republican, has represented District 25 in the Legislature since 2016 and is the first to enter the race. She presents a challenge to incumbent Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, a Democrat who is expected to announce her second term reelection bid later this year. Read more from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Chris Dunker here.

Two candidates qualify for Omaha race to complete Pahls’ legislative term

Secretary of State Bob Evnen confirmed on Sept. 13 two candidates have submitted enough valid petition signatures to appear on November’s ballot to complete the term of State Sen. Rich Pahls of Omaha, who died at the end of April.

Both State Sen. Kathleen Kauth, who Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed to fill Pahls’ seat, and Tim Royers, who ran for the seat in 2020, qualified for the ballot. Kauth is the president of K.T. Beck Enterprises, a mediation and conflict coaching firm, and Royers is president of the Millard Education Association.

Kauth will continue to hold the seat through at least Jan. 3, 2023, per state law. The election is to fill the remainder of Pahls’ term through January 2025. Read more from the Omaha World-Herald’s Martha Stoddard here.

Fourth candidate for governor falls short on two signature requirements

David Wright of Ewing will not appear as a nonpartisan candidate for governor in November, failing to meet two signature requirements.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen’s office confirmed Sept. 13 Wright did not meet the requirements. Wright submitted 4,339 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office, with 3,712 able to be verified. This also meant Wright fell short in needing at least 750 signatures from each of Nebraska’s three congressional districts, as the tossed signatures meant he had only 747 verifiable in the second district.

November’s election will include Republican Jim Pillen, Democrat Carol Blood and Libertarian Scott Zimmerman, another candidate saying he will mount a write-in campaign. Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford here.

Ricketts appoints interim replacements for corrections director, fire marshal

Gov. Pete Ricketts has appointed two individuals to replace the state’s outgoing corrections director and fire marshal.

Diane Sabatka-Rine will replace Scott Frakes as head of the Department of Correctional Services while Doug Hohbein will replace Chris Cantrell and become interim fire marshal.

Sabatka-Rine’s appointment is official on Oct. 8, and she will be the first woman to lead the department, dating back to 1856. Hohbein has worked with his agency since 1985 and will take over on Oct. 15. Both were second-in-command of their respective areas. Read more from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Andrew Wegley here.

Secret ballots for legislative committee chairs may be coming to an end

Seventeen of Nebraska’s state senators have signed onto a pledge from Charles Herbster’s new political action committee that would end the Legislature’s system of electing committee chairs by means of secret ballot.

A long goal for Republicans in the chamber, the officially nonpartisan Legislature does not have structures in place for partisan control. However, party membership has sometimes divided the members near party lines on more consequential votes. There are currently 32 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the Legislature.

The method of secret ballot has allowed some Democrats to lead committees in the most recent session, including State Sens. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, Lynne Walz of Fremont and Justin Wayne of Omaha for the Judiciary, Education and Urban Affairs committees respectively. 

Opponents argue the move would put more control in the hand of the Nebraska GOP as some senators may be more unwilling to select someone from the opposing party.The following senators have signed the pledge, with multiple candidates for the legislature signing as well:

  • Joni Albrecht of Thurston
  • John Arch of La Vista
  • Bruce Bostelman of Brainard
  • Tom Brewer of Gordon
  • Tom Briese of Albion
  • Rob Clements of Elmwood
  • Robert Dover of Norfolk
  • Steve Erdman of Bayard
  • Suzanne Geist of Lincoln
  • Ben Hansen of Blair
  • Steve Halloran of Hastings
  • Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers of Lincoln
  • Mike Jacobson of North Platte
  • Kathleen Kauth of Omaha
  • Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn
  • John Lowe of Kearney
  • Dave Murman of Glenvil

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford 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.