Sen. Mike Groene soundly defeated challenger Judy Pederson. That was evident when the last ballots were counted early Wednesday morning.
Ballots from all 24 Lincoln County precincts as well as early ballots were tallied by 12:25 a.m. Wednesday.
A heavy number write-in votes were counted on Election Night, delaying the announcement of the final count.
The ballots were reviewed and cross checked Thursday by the county canvassing board and the final totals were announced at 4 p.m.
About 52% of eligible voters in the county cast ballots, according to unofficial totals.
Groene finished with more than twice the votes of Pederson, with 8,180 votes to her 4,005.
Groene’s overwhelming win came even though he is clearly not a politician and loses his temper at times. But Groene has demonstrated the capacity and determination to stand up for working men and women. He often says he does not represent institutions or agencies.
Pederson, backed by experienced political family members and supporters that included the state teacher’s union and Planned Parenthood, spent heavily in the campaign, using saturation direct mailings plus ads on social media, television and radio.
One of her supporters might have been her undoing. The Nebraska State Education Association contracted with a firm in Washington D.C. to send mailings attacking Groene. The goal of the company, NextGen Persuasion, is “to help our clients deliver the right message to the right people at the right time” according to its website. The mailings accused Groene of being lazy, something not even his local critics believed.
NextGen spent $20,000 on the cards for the NSEA according to the most recent Oct. 22 report from the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
Groene was not surprised with the big win.
“I had a feeling,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in America. There is still a majority out there who respect people who tell them the truth. I’ve been honest. I told people what I’ve done and what I intend to do.”
In another hot race — the question of expanding the Lincoln County commissioners to five members — the majority of votes went for five commissioners, by a ratio of about 55-45%. The win came even though advocates misrepresented county spending.
Lincoln County is one of the most efficient units of local government in the state, according to state taxing and spending records. But during the campaign, proponents of five commissioners accused the current three-member board of wildly overspending, using a projected catch-all budget total to inflate their case, instead of the actual amount of spending.
Next, the county will be drawn into five districts of equal population. Then, applications will be accepted for the new commissioners. They are to be selected within 45 days, County Clerk Becky Rossell has said.
In other races:
• Kent Weems easily outdistanced Randy Stubbs for county commissioner.
• North Platte voters turned down a proposed half-cent sales tax increase by a wide margin.
• Incumbent Jim Carman, 78, retained his city council seat, defeating challenger Cynthia Gutschenritter.
In one of the closest races of the election, Darrel C. Smith and Mike Jacobson retained their seats on the North Platte Airport Authority, with Mike Arney just out of the running, 238 votes behind Jacobson.
In the campaign for the board of directors of the Twin Platte NRD, four men who favor selling the NCORPE land challenged incumbents on the NRD board of directors. One of the challengers was successful.
Rancher Jake Tiedeman defeated incumbent Doug Stack, the North Platte city attorney.
Incumbent Joe Wahlgren of Brady withstood a strong challenge from newcomer Lynn Frederick. who lives next to the NCORPE water farm.
In the at-large TWNRD race, Eric M. Brown nipped Dewey Schaffer by just 60 votes, out of 11,622 cast, a margin of a half-percent.
Brown and Schaffer were both newcomers, running for the seat vacated by Judy Pederson when she decided to run for legislature.
During the campaign, both Brown and Schaffer said they are inclined to sell the land, as did Tiedeman, so proponents of the land sale gained two seats on the board.
The official totals:
LEGISLATURE – DISTRICT 42 (Lincoln County)
Mike Groene – 8,180
Judy Pederson – 4,005
Expand the county commissioners from 3 to 5
Yes – 6,781
No – 5,405
Lincoln County Commissioner – Dist. 2
Kent C. Weems – 2,304
Randy Stubbs – 1,092
CITY OF NORTH PLATTE
Proposal to increase city sales and use tax rate
No – 4,906
Yes – 2,341
North Platte City Council – Ward 2
Ty J. Lucas – 1,598
Larry E. Pedersen — 887
NP City Council – Ward 3
James P. Carman — 890
Cynthia Gutschenritter — 731
NP City Council – Ward 4
Ed Rieker — 940
Larry Britton – 137
North Platte Airport Authority (vote for 2)
Darrel C. Smith – 3,524
Michael B. Jacobson – 3,412
Michael Arney – 3,174
NORTH PLATTE SCHOOL BOARD
JoAnn Lundgreen – 1,382
Stewart Takota Clow — 590
Mark D. Nicholson – 1,791
Fiona Libsack – 1,155
NATURAL RESOURCES DISTRICTS
(Election night totals from the Nebraska Secretary of State)
Incumbent Eric S. Hansen – 1,155
John Walz – 925
Incumbent Joe S. Wahlgren – 1,618
Lynn Frederick – 1,517
Jake Tiedeman – 1,190
Incumbent Douglas L. Stack – 1,024
Incumbent James Meismer – 1,660
Brian Armstrong – 1,062
Eric M. Brown – 5,841
Dewey C. Schaffer – 5,781
Middle Republican Natural Resources District – Subdistrict 2
Dan Estermann — 405
Incumbent Kevin Fornoff – 387
For the complete Lincoln County results, click HERE.