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Gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster visits area with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway

Gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster visits area with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway

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As he makes his case across the state, Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster stopped in Scotts Bluff County Tuesday.

Herbster shares a lot in common with his friend, Donald Trump. By next November, he’s hoping to share a little more.

In a recent interview, he told the Star-Herald he’s been watching the Biden administration in its first 100 days and he said he’s seen enough. It’s what’s compelled him to run.

“I’m just really, really concerned about where this country is headed. I can’t believe what we’ve had happen in 85 days,” he said.

'We are going to fight for the best Nebraska': Charles Herbster announces run for governor

So far, Herbster is one of two candidates throwing his hat in the ring to replace Gov. Pete Ricketts to head the state. University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen also officially launched his campaign earlier this month. State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha has said he’s strongly considering a run, setting up a Republican battle royal to replace Ricketts.

On Monday, Herbster drove to Scotts Bluff County as part of a tour of the state. While talking with voters in Gering, Herbster said his first two questions had nothing to do with division outside the state and everything to do with the internal regional divide between east and west.

“I can certainly fix (the east, west divide) as governor,” Herbster said. “It’s just bringing people together, and talking things through.”

Herbster pointed to his success in business as proof of his ability to get disparate groups together.

“There’s no reason, in the state of Nebraska, that we should be divided between the west and the east. We got to work on that. That can be fixable. We just need to sit out and talk,” he said.

Born in Falls City, Herbster is the CEO of Conklin Company based in Kansas City, Missouri. He purchased Conklin in 1992 after working at the agribusiness and home products company for several years. Through it all, Herbster said he’s a hard worker.

“If you work really, really hard, I tell people, it’s what to do with the second eight hours of the day that makes the difference. I’m much like (Donald Trump), I sleep about four hours a night,” Herbster said.

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In the early days of his campaign, Herbster has associated himself with Trump and the 45th president’s policies. Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, traveled with Herbster on his tour.

For Herbster, closeness with the former president is more than political posturing. Herbster said he and Trump have a friendship spanning 16 years. Herbster said he was in New York City at Trump Tower in 2016 when Trump announced his first run for president.

“I watched him come down the escalators,” Herbster said. “I said to everybody that I knew that he would be the next president of the United States.”

Herbster said he admires Trump’s accomplishments, even if doing so alienates some voters.

“I can assure you that, my loyalty to what he achieved, what he did, his willingness to put up with all the crap ... I would never, in any way, back away from my support and loyalty for the president,” Herbster said, referring to Trump.

Despite being about 1,500 miles to the Mexican border, Herbster said immigration would be a critical focus of his campaign and administration.

“We got to build a damn wall. You can’t have a country if you’re going to let everybody keep coming in,” he said.

Regent Jim Pillen says he's running for governor of Nebraska

Herbster said the reemergence of immigration on the southern border as a national issue prompted him to run for governor.

“If we think those people are just gonna stay in Texas, in Arizona, we live in a glasshouse, those people are coming to Nebraska,” he said.

Herbster said a governor’s responsibility was two-fold. First and foremost, a governor is supposed to lead the people of their state, he said.

“But secondly, we’re at a point in America where governors are going to have to be conservative individuals with a strong backbone. And they’re going to have to push against federal government overreach,” he said.

As Herbster’s campaign continues into the primary, he may not have the support of the outgoing governor. On Wednesday, Ricketts told a Lincoln TV news station that he’s worked to grow business in Nebraska but the same can’t be said for Herbster.

“Charles Herbster chose to put the headquarters for his main company in Missouri. I think that makes it hard to make the case you’re committed to Nebraska,” Ricketts said.

Sen. Fischer says she may seek Nebraska governorship in 2022

Despite the potential opposition, Herbster was optimistic.

“We may, we may not succeed,” Herbster said. “But I think we got a good chance.”

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