Nebraska governor seeks to change state's Electoral College law months before presidential election

Plus, a right-wing billionaire is astroturfing a movement to unseat a member of The Squad.

Election Watch

Yesterday, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) called on the state legislature to reinstate Nebraska’s winner-take-all format for delegating electoral votes in the presidential election. Since passing a law in 1991, Nebraska has awarded two electoral votes based on the state’s total number of votes and three based on the vote composition of their three congressional districts. 

Pillen seemed to be taking notes from conservative media personality and influencer Charlie Kirk, who in a recent post on X called on the governor to repeal the existing format because it could allow President Joe Biden to win reelection, even if Trump flipped Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. 

“Thanks to this system, Omaha's electoral vote leans blue: Obama won it in 2008, and Biden won it in 2020. He's likely to win it again this year,” Kirk wrote. “As I write this, the Nebraska legislature is still in session. Nebraskans should call their legislators and their governor to demand their state stop pointlessly giving strength to their political enemies.” 

Nebraska state Sen. Loren Lippincott (R-Central City) introduced the bill in January of last year, but the legislation has sat dormant since. But in a statement today, Pillen encouraged Republican lawmakers to bring the bill to a vote.

“[Legislative Bill 764] would bring Nebraska into line with 48 of our fellow states, better reflect the founders’ intent, and ensure our state speaks with one unified voice in presidential elections,” Pillen said. “I call upon fellow Republicans in the Legislature to pass this bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.”

The announcement was then promptly backed by former President Donald Trump from his Truth Social account. 

However, Democrats in the state are planning to block the potential change to Nebraska’s election laws during this month’s legislative session, which ends on April 18. The Democrats could employ the filibuster that stalled the entire legislature for months last year as Republicans tried to pass anti-transgender legislation.

“The Nebraska Democratic Party is watching this bill closely and still believes we have the votes to stop the Republicans from removing a fair electoral system that represents voters,” Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb said in an interview with Semafor. 

Local Lens

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), one the House’s more progressive lawmakers, is being targeted by a right-wing billionaire, according to a new report by the watchdog outlet Sludge. Jeff Yass, the wealthiest man in Pennsylvania, TikTok investor and the owner of global investment firm Susquehanna International Group, has become the biggest donor in the 2024 election cycle. Much of the $46 million he’s donated has gone to GOP candidates and groups who are seeking to challenge the party’s Trumpian right, though Yass recently met with the former president to encourage him to oppose a potential ban of TikTok. 

But Yass has now turned his attention to Lee, a member of The Squad who is up for reelection this cycle. By funneling $1 million into the Moderate PAC — the only donation the group has ever reported — Yass is hoping to unseat left-wingers like Lee.

Moderate PAC, which is committed to backing center-right Democrats, recently began attacking Lee by airing commercials in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District that criticize her “extreme socialist agenda” and her unwillingness to back former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling bill. The ads have also encouraged voters to back Lee’s opponent: Bhavini Patel, a Borough council member in Edgewood, a suburb of Pittsburgh. 

The PAC’s funds have only exclusively come from Yass, despite claims by the group that the money for the ads came from residents of Lee’s district. 

Moderate PAC’s president, Ty Strong, also claimed that Yass “has no lean in this other than he likes a moderate Democrat, as opposed to a far-left Democrat.”

Yass’s record of donating to the PACs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) isn’t the only thing that should trouble Democrats. The tech mogul has a soft spot for undermining public schooling as well. 

“Yass has donated more than $62 million to conservative super PAC Club for Growth Action, and $18 million to School Freedom Fund, a Club for Growth PAC that supports candidates who believe parents should receive taxpayer dollars to spend with private education companies of their choosing,” Sludge’s Donald Shaw explained. 

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Jamie Larson