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Nebraska’s Most Progressive Gubernatorial Candidate May Become the Republican Nominee

Nebraska is known for its streak of voting red during the general elections, but still has a vibrant progressive community that seeks to change the existing system for the better in their own way. Krystal Gabel of Omaha, a well-known pro-marijuana activist who is currently leading the charge toward decriminalization of marijuana in the state, is also currently vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The 2018 Nebraska Republican primary will be held on May 15th, 2018. If chosen, Gabel stands to become the Republican Party candidate for governor in the Nov. 6th general elections. Gabel’s challenger is incumbent Pete Ricketts, the super-conservative millionaire known for spending his own money to influence policy decisions in the state. 

Nebraskans can still register to vote in the primary in person at an election commission office until May 3rd, and early vote from May 1st - 14th.

Gabel has been a driving force behind the pro-legalization effort in Nebraska, petitioning for the decriminalization of marijuana and helping to establish pro-legalization organizations in Nebraska as well as other states. From the first days of Gabel’s campaign, events have been held covering everything from meet-and-greet's with the candidate to petition signings on the streets. The campaign has not stopped her desire to be an activist, visiting cities and towns across the state to talk to voters and make change happen.

The focuses of the Gabel campaign are both educational and technical in the forms of creating a more sustainable, vibrant community for people and businesses to coexist together. When asked about concerns regarding the upcoming primary, Gabel talked about tackling unemployment and homelessness, as well as legalizing marijuana and industrial hemp to create new industries in the primarily agricultural state.

Regarding the topic of Keystone XL, and the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act of Nebraska (MOPSA), a statute passed into law a few years ago by the Unicameral that prevents the Public Service Commission of Nebraska from evaluating safety considerations when permitting new pipelines like the KXL (“safety considerations” including those that may result because of a leak or spill from a major oil pipeline), Gabel stated clearly that she was against the creation of new oil pipelines and that her administration would reflect that. Gabel is instead a staunch advocate of converting the state to a more renewable source of energy, one more able to protect the delicate water and land resources prime for agriculture on which the state depends. This is a stark contrast to her primary opponent Ricketts, whose money is personally invested in the pipelines through his family company, TD Ameritrade.

The Democratic Party in the state of Nebraska seems to be unable to provide an avenue for a real progressive candidate to challenge Gabel if she happens to make it to the general. Three candidates have filed for the gubernatorial election in the Democratic primary, with what many consider the frontrunner to be a known fossil fuel supporting Republican in the Unicameral, Sen. Bob Krist. Krist chose to run in the Democratic primary when he was unable to get by the steep Independent candidate laws in the state. The other two Democratic candidates are Vanessa Ward and Tyler Davis, both also of Omaha. Ward has had disputes with the Nebraska Democratic Party Chair and has been sluffed off by some in their leadership base, while Davis is a professor with little traction but a decent track record.

If Gabel is chosen in the Republican primary on May 15th, she will go on to the general election Nov 6th to challenge whoever comes out of the Democratic primary, and she will likely win. The Democratic Party in Nebraska has yet to prove to Nebraskans that they are willing to support progressives and that they will not stifle actions that disagree with what the party believes.

If you want to support Gabel, the most progressive candidate on either side, you still can.

As a Nebraskan, register as Republican or change your voter registration to Republican by tomorrow, May 3rd, to
vote for Krystal Gabel to replace incumbent Pete Ricketts, or contact the campaign directly to volunteer.

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