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Nebraska state lawmakers face Trump-fueled push to change electoral vote system

Nebraska
state
lawmakers
are
confronting
a
late
push
to
change
the
unusual
way
the
state
awards
electoral
votes
after
former
president

Donald
Trump

and
his
allies
came
out
in
support
of
a
languishing
proposal
that
could
boost
Trump’s
chances
of
prevailing
nationally
in
the
electoral
college
in
a
very
close
race.

Nebraska
is
one
of
only
two
states
that
divides
its
electoral
votes
among
statewide
and
congressional
district
winners,
which
allowed

Joe
Biden

to
pick
off
an
electoral
vote
in
the
red
state
in
2020
by
carrying
a
swing
district
in
the
Omaha
area.
But
Gov.
Jim
Pillen
(R)
and
Trump
on
Tuesday
endorsed
a
proposal
to
return
the
state
to
a
winner-take-all
system,
possibly
upending
the
final
days
of
the
state’s
legislative
session,
which
ends
April
18.

Nebraska
state
Sen.
John
Cavanaugh
(D),
who
represents
Omaha,
said
Democrats
are
“on
the
lookout”
and
preparing
for
a
bill
to
be
attached
to
“any
particular
vehicle,”
while
preparing
to
put
up
“procedural
bars”
and
a
possible
filibuster.

The
sponsor
of
the
proposal

has
said
he
does
not
have
the
votes

to
overcome
a
filibuster,
but
Trump’s
11th-hour
intervention
has
raised
speculation
that
Republicans
could
regroup.

“Ultimately
the
Nebraska
legislature
does
not
legislate
in
response
to
tweets
from
anyone,”
Cavanaugh
said.
Democrats,
he
added,
are
“firmly
in
support
of
maintaining
the
division
of
the
electoral
vote.
It
is
part
of
what
makes
Nebraska
special.”

The
bill’s
sponsor,
Nebraska
state
Sen.
Loren
Lippincott
(R),
noted
in
a
statement
that
there
are
only
six
“working
days”
left
in
the
session
and
two
days
left
for
bills
to
be
scheduled
for
floor
consideration.

“My
staff
and
I
are
doing
everything
we
can
to
seek
options
for
getting
this
to
the
finish
line,”
Lippincott
said.
“However,
the
harsh
reality
of
a
2-day
time
frame
is
limiting.”

The
one
electoral
vote
in
Nebraska’s
2nd
Congressional
District
has

become
increasingly
important
for
Democrats

as
they
can
no
longer
rely
on
the
“blue
wall”
trifecta
of
Wisconsin,
Michigan
and
Pennsylvania,
after
recent
redistricting
reduced
those
states’
weight
in
the
electoral
college.
Maine
is
the
only
other
state
that
does
not
award
all
of
its
electoral
votes
to
the
winner
of
the
statewide
vote.

Trump’s
endorsement
of
the
proposal
came
hours
after
a
prominent
ally,
Charlie
Kirk,
rallied
his
large
social
media
following
to
pressure
Pillen
and
state
lawmakers
to
advance
the
legislation.
Pillen
issued
a
statement
of
support
within
hours.

The
Trump
campaign
had
looked
into
the
possibility
of
a
late
legislative
push
weeks
ago
and
concluded
that
there
were
significant
obstacles,
according
to
a
person
familiar
with
the
discussions,
who
spoke
on
the
condition
of
anonymity
to
describe
internal
campaign
efforts.
But
Trump
decided
Tuesday
night
after
an
event
in
Wisconsin
to
push
hard
for
a
shift,
after
he
saw
the
statement
from
the
governor,
which
appeared
to
have
been
prompted
by
Kirk’s
social
media
posts.

Nebraska
has
a
unicameral
legislature,
with
49
lawmakers,
referred
to
as
senators,
serving
in
one
chamber
that
is
officially
nonpartisan.
While
registered
Republicans
hold
a
majority,
it
was
not
filibuster-proof
as
of
Tuesday.

There
were
16
Democrats
and
an
independent
member
from
Omaha,
Megan
Hunt,
who
was
previously
a
Democrat.
Thirty-three
votes
are
needed
to
break
a
filibuster,
so
if
all
16
Democrats
and
Hunt
stuck
together,
they
could
form
a
firewall
against
legislation
they
opposed.

The
legislature
saw
a
shake-up
Wednesday
when
a
Democratic
member,
Mike
McDonnell,
announced
he
was
switching
to
the
GOP,
breaking
the
Democrats’
firewall.
But
McDonnell

told
Politico

he
would
continue
opposing
any
proposed
changes
to
the
electoral-vote
system.

McDonnell’s
switch
nonetheless
buoyed
GOP
hopes
for
the
Trump-backed
proposal.
U.S.
Sen.
Pete
Ricketts
(R-Neb.)
said
in
a
statement
that
the
timing
of
the
party
switch
is
“an
awesome
opportunity
to
mobilize
our
Republican
majority
to
a
winner-take-all
system.”

Jane
Kleeb,
the
chair
of
the
Nebraska
Democratic
Party,
said
Wednesday
morning
that
Democrats
believed
passing
the
vote
was
“unrealistic”
at
this
point
but
are
closely
monitoring
the
situation.

“Charlie
Kirk
is
obviously
not
an
idiot
and
sent
out
that
tweet
for
a
reason,”
Kleeb
said.
“We’re
on
guard.
We’re
shoring
up
our
17
votes.”

Even
then,
it
is
not
clear
that
all
Republicans
want
to
prioritize
the
bill,
which
had
languished
in
committee
and
was
assumed
dead
until
Tuesday.

“Until
yesterday,
this
wasn’t
a
discussion
at
all,
and
then
suddenly
it
blew
up,
and
several
of
our
legislators
that
are
process-oriented
will
take
a
skeptical
line,”
said
Gavin
Geis,
the
executive
director
of
Common
Cause
Nebraska.

Kirk,
the
founder
and
CEO
of
Turning
Point
USA,
on
Tuesday
morning

urged
his
nearly
3
million
followers
on
X

to
call
Pillen
and
state
lawmakers
to
urge
support
for
the
proposal.
Kirk
asked
Nebraskans
to
“demand
their
state
stop
pointlessly
giving
strength
to
their
political
enemies.”

Within
hours,
Pillen
released
a
statement
saying
he
is
a
“strong
supporter”
of
the
bill
and
has
“been
from
the
start.”
He
called
on
Republicans
in
the
legislature
to
send
it
to
his
desk.

Trump
quickly
reacted
on
his
Truth
Social
platform,
sharing
Pillen’s
statement
and
calling
it
a
“very
smart
letter.”
In
a
longer
second
post,
Trump
thanked
Pillen
for
his
“bold
leadership”
and
said
he
hopes
the
legislature
“does
the
right
thing,”
urging
Nebraskans
to
call
their
representatives.

Kirk
has
scheduled
a
rally
Tuesday
in
Omaha
to
continue
pushing
for
the
change.

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