|40th Governor of Nebraska|
January 8, 2015
|Preceded by||Dave Heineman|
|Chair of the Republican Governors Association|
November 29, 2018
|Preceded by||Bill Haslam|
John Peter Ricketts
August 19, 1964
|Education||University of Chicago (BA, MBA)|
Ricketts is the son of Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade. He worked for the company from 1993 to 2016, with a brief hiatus during an unsuccessful run for a United States Senate seat. In 2006, he reported his net worth as between $45 million and $50 million. Ricketts is also a part-owner – along with other family members – of Major League Baseball‘s Chicago Cubs.
In 2006, Ricketts ran against incumbent Nebraska U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat. He won the Republican primary election, but lost the general election, with 36% of the vote to Nelson’s 64%. Ricketts ran for the Nebraska governorship in 2014. He narrowly won a six-way Republican primary, then won the general election with 57.1% of the vote to Democratic Party nominee Chuck Hassebrook’s 39.2%. In November 2018, Ricketts was re-elected for a second term as governor.
Personal and business history
Ricketts was born in Nebraska City on August 19, 1964, the oldest of four children of Joe and Marlene (Volkmer) Ricketts. Joe Ricketts was a businessman; Marlene, a teacher. The family moved to Omaha, where in 1975 Joe founded First Omaha Securities, one of the first discount stockbrokers in the United States. The company prospered, changing its name to Ameritrade, going public in 1997, and changing its name to TD Ameritrade after acquiring TD Waterhouse in 2006.
Ricketts and his siblings, Tom, Laura, and Todd, all attended Westside High School in Omaha, from which Ricketts graduated in 1982. He attended the University of Chicago, receiving a BA in biology in 1986 and an MBA in marketing and finance in 1991.
After completing graduate school, Ricketts returned to Omaha. He worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for a year, then as a salesman for a Chicago environmental consultant. In 1993, he went to work for his father’s business, initially in the call center, and subsequently holding a number of executive positions, ultimately becoming the company’s chief operating officer. In a 2006 report, he stated that his net worth was between $45 million and $50 million.
In 1997, Ricketts married Susanne Shore. A native of Garden City, Kansas, Shore had grown up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and earned a bachelor’s degree in English and then an MBA from Oklahoma State University. After a stint working for the dean of students at the University of South Dakota, she had come to Omaha in order to complete a one-year course in nursing at Creighton University. At the time of her marriage to Ricketts, she was working as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Omaha. Ricketts and Shore produced three children: Roscoe, Margot, and Eleanor.
Ricketts left Ameritrade in order to run for the U.S. Senate in 2006. After his defeat by incumbent Ben Nelson, he returned to the company’s board, remaining until the Ricketts family relinquished its board seats in 2016.
In 2007, Ricketts co-founded, and became director and president of the Platte Institute for Economic Research, which he described as a “free market think tank”, and which Nebraska newspapers have described as “conservative”. He resigned from the organization in 2013 in order to concentrate on his 2014 gubernatorial campaign. From 2007 to 2012, Ricketts was a national committeeman for the Republican National Committee; from 2007 to 2013, he was a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute.
In 2009, the Ricketts family trust bought the Chicago Cubs baseball team from Tribune Media. Ricketts and his siblings occupied four of the five seats on the team’s board of directors; as of 2018, the four continued to hold those seats. Due to this, Ricketts has a 2016 World Series title to his credit, as the Cubs won the championship that year (fulfilling a pledge he had made in 2009 during the press conference to announce the family’s purchase of the team, when he and his brother Tom guaranteed a World Series win for the Cubs under their ownership).
2006 U.S. Senate campaign
Ricketts was the 2006 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held and retained by Democrat Ben Nelson. His opponents in the primary were former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg and former state Republican chairman David Kramer. Ricketts spent nearly $5 million of his own money out-of-pocket, outspending his opponents 10–1 in winning the nomination.
Ricketts received some high-profile campaign assistance, most notably from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush appeared at a campaign rally for Ricketts on November 5, 2006, just days before the election, in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Ricketts ran on a conservative platform, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, immigration reform, and agriculture, as well as championing a socially conservative platform opposing same-sex marriage and abortion. In all, he contributed $11,302,078 of his own money to his campaign, triggering the Millionaire’s Amendment which allowed his opponent to raise larger amounts from each donor. He spent more money than any Senate candidate in Nebraska history, but was defeated by Nelson by a margin of 36%–64%.
Governor of Nebraska
In the 2014 election, Ricketts ran for the Nebraska governorship. The incumbent, Dave Heineman, was barred by Nebraska’s term-limits law from running for re-election. Two candidates considered strong contenders for the Republican nomination withdrew by early 2013: lieutenant governor Rick Sheehy, who was embroiled in a scandal; and Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, whose wife had been diagnosed with cancer. Ricketts officially joined the race in September 2013, at which point he and state auditor Mike Foley were regarded as early front-runners in a race that also included state senators Charlie Janssen, Beau McCoy, and Tom Carlson. In February 2014, Janssen withdrew, and state attorney general Jon Bruning declared his candidacy. Despite his late entrance, Bruning supplanted Ricketts as the perceived front-runner.
When the primary election was held in May 2014, Ricketts led the field of six candidates, with 26.6% of the vote to Bruning’s 25.5%. McCoy received 20.9%; Foley, 19.2%; Carlson, 4.1%; and Omaha attorney Bryan Slone, 3.7%.
In the general election, Ricketts faced Chuck Hassebrook, who had run unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Hassebrook was a former member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and former director of the Center for Rural Affairs, which describes itself as “a leading nonprofit organization with a national reputation for progressive rural advocacy and policy work”. Ricketts advocated tax reductions; Hassebrook argued that Ricketts’s proposed cuts would primarily benefit the rich, and would deprive the state of funds for what he characterized as needed public services. Ricketts opposed the proposed expansion of Medicaid under the provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Hassebrook favored the expansion. Ricketts expressed opposition to an increase in the state’s minimum wage; Hassebrook supported it.
Over the course of the general-election campaign, Ricketts outspent Hassebrook by a considerable margin. In the last spending report filed before the election, he stated that he had loaned his campaign $930,000, and that the organization had spent about $6.0 million. Hassebrook reported expenditures of slightly more than $2.5 million.
In the general election, Ricketts received 57.1% of the vote to Hassebrook’s 39.2%. Libertarian Mark G. Elworth Jr. received 3.5%, and write-in votes accounted for 0.1%.
On June 5, 2017, Ricketts announced his re-election bid for the 2018 election. During his speech, he stated that “lowering property taxes” will be his main concern if he is elected to a second-term. Ricketts also asked Nebraskans to “re-hire” current Lt. Governor Mike Foley. Ricketts won re-election on November 6, taking an 18-point lead with 59.0% of the vote against his Democratic opponent Bob Krist.
Among the “most significant” actions taken by the Legislature in its 2015 session were three bills that passed over Ricketts’s veto. LB268 repealed the state’s death penalty; LB623 reversed the state’s previous policy of denying driver’s licenses to people who were living illegally in the United States after being brought to the country as children, and who had been granted exemption from deportation under the Barack Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and LB610 increased the tax on gasoline to pay for repairs to roads and bridges.
Following the override of Ricketts’s veto of the death-penalty repeal, capital-punishment proponents launched a petition drive to reverse the legislature’s action. Their efforts gathered enough signatures to suspend the repeal until a public vote could be held. Capital-punishment opponents then filed a lawsuit arguing that the petition should be invalidated, on the grounds that Ricketts, who had contributed $200,000 to the campaign, was “the primary initiating force” for the petition drive, and should have been included in the list of sponsors required by Nebraska law. In February 2016, a Lancaster County district judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Ricketts’s financial support of the petition effort did not, ipso facto, make him a sponsor.
The plaintiffs appealed the issue to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The referendum was held in the general election of 2016; 61.2% of the population voted in favor of keeping the death penalty.
In its 2016 session, the legislature passed three bills that Ricketts then vetoed. LB580 would have created an independent commission of citizens to draw new district maps following censuses; supporters described it as an attempt to de-politicize the redistricting process, while Ricketts maintained that the bill delegated the legislature’s constitutional duty of redistricting to “an unelected and unaccountable board”. The bill’s sponsor, John Murante, opted not to seek an override of the veto. A second vetoed bill, LB935, would have changed state audit procedures; it passed by a margin of 37–8, with 4 present and not voting. The bill was withdrawn without an attempt to override the veto; the state auditor agreed to work with the governor on a new version for the next year’s session. A third bill, LB947, made DACA beneficiaries eligible for commercial and professional licenses in Nebraska. The bill passed the Legislature on a vote of 33–11–5; the veto override passed 31–13–5.
At the 2016 Republican state convention, Ricketts denounced several legislators who had failed to support his and the party’s positions on various bills, and called for the election of more “platform Republicans” to the officially nonpartisan legislature. In response to this, thirteen legislators, including five registered Republicans, released a statement in which they accused Ricketts of placing partisanship above principle. One of the signers of the statement, Laura Ebke, changed her registration from Republican to Libertarian shortly thereafter, citing Ricketts’s speech as one of the factors that drove her to make the change.
Ricketts voiced his support for the Keystone XL Pipeline, as he stated it would “create jobs here in Nebraska, lots of tax revenues here in Nebraska, of course help us become less dependent on foreign oil.”
Awards and honors
- columnist, Matthew Hansen / World-Herald. “After ‘roller coaster of emotion,’ Pete Ricketts still processing Cubs’ World Series win”. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
- “Governor Pete Ricketts”. National Governors Association. Archived from the original April 20, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Smith, Bryan. “The Ricketts Family Owns the Chicago Cubs: Who Are These People?”. Chicago. June 24, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
- Reingold, Jennifer (September 21, 2012). “Joe Ricketts: The new billionaire political activist”. Fortune. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Hauser, Jeanne (October 31, 2016). “Timeline: Milestones in TD Ameritrade history”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
Aren (January 23, 2015). “Q&A with Governor of Nebraska and Westside alum Pete Ricketts”. Westside Wired. Archived from original March 15, 2015. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Greenberg, Jon. “Here’s the pitch”.
University of Chicago Magazine. July–August 2010. Archived from original November 7, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- “About Governor Pete Ricketts”. Office of Governor Pete Ricketts. Archived from original June 25, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Duggan, Joe (October 19, 2014). “After failed tuneup in 2006, Pete Ricketts says he’s road-tested and ready to lead”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- Cordes, Henry J. (March 24, 2014). “Pete Ricketts traded business world for politics”. Omaha World-Herald.
Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Cordes, Henry J. (February 9, 2015). “Nebraska, meet your new First Lady”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Moore, Kathryn Cates (February 14, 2015). “Balancing family, new role are priorities for first lady Susanne Shore”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Hubbard, Russell (December 5, 2013). “End of an era: Ricketts family members to relinquish TD Ameritrade board seats in 2016”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- “Platte Institute Unveiled”. Platte Institute. Archived from original June 2, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- O’Hanlon, Kevin (January 1, 2014). “Report criticizes conservative Nebraska think tank”. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- 2016–17 Nebraska Blue Book”, p. 418. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- “Front Office Directory”. That’s Cub (official Chicago Cubs website). Archived from original June 24, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Cordes, Henry J. (May 10, 2006). “High-spending race for Senate ahead”. Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Cordes, Henry J. (March 19, 2006). “For Ricketts, it’s about earning what you get”. Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Gonzalez, Cindy (October 13, 2006). “Ricketts criticized for immigrant idea”. Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Walton, Don (March 2, 2006). “Ricketts proposes new agricultural savings accounts”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Norman, Andrew. “GOP The Prelims: Candidates Spar Over the Details”. The Reader. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Walton, Don (September 19, 2006). “Ricketts pokes Nelson’s pro-life credentials”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Bratton, Anna Jo. “Ricketts’ bid for office hits nearly $10M out of pocket”. Columbus Telegram. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- Tysver, Robynn (October 16, 2006). “In last debate, Ricketts attacks Nelson tie to Columbus firm”. Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2006.
- Tysver, Robynn (September 21, 2006). “Ricketts digs deeper into wallet”. Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on April 22, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2006.
- “United States Senator”. www.sos.ne.gov. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Tobias, Mike (September 19, 2013). “2014 Shaping Up As A Chaotic Election Year In Nebraska”. NET (Nebraska PBS and NPR system). Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- “Nebraska Governor’s Race: What’s Next?”. WOWT News. February 3, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Walton, Don (September 8, 2013). “Ricketts looks forward to changing skeptics’ minds”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Tsyver, Robynn (February 3, 2014). “Charlie Janssen abandons his bid for governor”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved August 20,
- Tsyver, Robynn (February 9, 2014). “Attorney General Jon Bruning to run for Nebraska governor”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved August 20,
- “Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: Primary Election, May 13, 2014”. pp. 19–20. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Knapp, Fred (May 14, 2014). “Ricketts, Hassebrook Offer Contrasts In Race For Governor”. NET (Nebraska PBS and NPR system). Retrieved August 20,
- Francis, Casey (November 2, 2015). “Are you ready to work for rural America?” Center for Rural Affairs. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- Quinlan, Mary Kay (November 2, 2014). “Campaign spending climbs for statewide executive branch races”. KRVN radio. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- “Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 4, 2014”. pp. 13–14. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- writers, Susan Szalewski and Kevin Cole / World-Herald staff. “Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announces re-election bid, says he’ll focus on lowering property taxes”. Omaha.com. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
- “Nebraska Governor Election Results”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- “Pete Ricketts Sworn In as Governor”. 1011now.com. January 8, 2015. Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
- Associated Press (January 8, 2015) – “Pete Ricketts Sworn in as 40th Governor of Nebraska”. Kearney Hub. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- Stoddard, Martha (January 8, 2015) – “Q&A: Pete Ricketts Offers Glimpse of His Vision for Nebraska”. Omaha.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- Knapp, Fred (June 3, 2015). “2015 Legislature Leaves Its Mark On Nebraska”. NET (Nebraska public radio and television). Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Walton, Don (May 28, 2015). “Senators override Ricketts’ veto of Dreamers licenses”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Pluhacek, Zach (May 7, 2015). “Gas tax hike gets Nebraska lawmakers’ OK, governor’s veto”. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Martin, Brent (September 29, 2015). “Gov. Ricketts denies being a sponsor of the death penalty petition drive”. Nebraska Radio Network. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Duggan, Joe (November 16, 2015). “Ricketts’ involvement in death penalty petition argued in lawsuit”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Duggan, Joe. “Judge dismisses lawsuit claiming death penalty voter petition drive is invalid”. Omaha World-Herald. February 1, 2016. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
- Pilger, Lori. “Judge dismisses suit challenging death-penalty question going to voters”. Lincoln Journal Star. February 1, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- Hargesheimer v. Gale (Lancaster County (Nebraska) District Court, January 29, 2016). Text
- Duggan, Joe. “Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over whether ballot initiative to reinstate death penalty is valid”. Omaha World-Herald. May 26, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- “Nebraska Referendum 426 — Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal Veto — Results: Rejected”. The New York Times. November 21, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Berman, Mark (November 9, 2016). “Nebraska and California Voters Decide to Keep the Death Penalty”. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Matheny, Ryan. “Nebraska legislators wrap up 2016 session”. KMA. April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- Nohr, Emily. “‘Unconstitutional, unelected and unaccountable’: Ricketts vetoes bill to revamp how political maps are drawn”. Omaha World-Herald. April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- “Independent redistricting commission vetoed, no override attempt offered”. Unicameral Update. April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- “Legislative Journal: Carryover Legislation”. Archived April 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine pp. 1579–80. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- Duggan, Joe. “Legislature to vote on overriding veto on bill that would allow work licenses for those brought to U.S. illegally as kids”. Omaha World-Herald. April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- “Legislative Journal: Carryover Legislation”. Archived April 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Passage of LB947 is on p. 1614; the veto override is on pp. 1637–38. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- Szalewski, Susan. “Responding to Ricketts’ ‘platform Republicans’ comment, 13 Nebraska lawmakers call for nonpartisanship”. Omaha World-Herald. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Duggan, Joe. “‘Frustrated’ State Sen. Laura Ebke switches from Republican to Libertarian”. Omaha World-Herald. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- Walton, Don. “Ebke bolts GOP after Ricketts speech”. Lincoln Journal Star. June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Brown, Ben (May 5, 2017). “Gov. Ricketts on Keystone: Being Less Dependent on Foreign Oil is a Big Deal”. Fox Business Network. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- “Pope’s Death Penalty Stance Won’t Stop Execution, Nebraska’s Catholic Governor Says”. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
- Governor of Nebraska official government site
- Pete Ricketts for Governor official campaign site
- Pete Ricketts at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- 2006 CD1 campaign funding for Pete Ricketts
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Nebraska
| Republican nominee for Governor of Nebraska
| Chair of the Republican Governors Association
| Governor of Nebraska
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
| Order of Precedence of the United States
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
as Governor of Nevada
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Governor of Colorado