Pressure builds from Nebraska Trump loyalists for a winner-take-all system

Omaha — With only five days left in this year's legislative session, far-right conservatives loyal to former President Donald Trump are pushing the Republican-led Nebraska Legislature to adopt a “winner-take-all” Electoral College vote system.  

Nebraska Republicans, backed by Trump loyalists, will organize a rally in Omaha on Tuesday featuring conservative activist Charlie Kirk to criticize the state's unusual system of allocating its five presidential electoral votes by popular vote in congressional districts. Maine is the only other state with electoral votes split.  

To avoid President Joe Biden winning Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District electoral vote in 2020, Republicans seek the swap before this year's fiercely contested presidential election. That electoral vote was first shaved by Barack Obama in 2008.  

California would never do this. NY would never do this. If so, neither should we, Kirk stated Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter. An electoral vote from Nebraska would give Biden the 270 electoral votes he needs to win reelection if he wins Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  

Kirk pushed his supporters to phone Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen's office to urge a winner-take-all approach this year, bringing the matter national attention. Pillen accomplished that in hours. Trump, on Truth Social, praised Pillen and advocated for winner-take-all in Nebraska, stating “it’s what the Founders intended.”  

When state Sen. Mike McDonnell switched parties from Democrat to Republican on Wednesday, more chatter ensued. Although the one-chamber Nebraska Legislature is nonpartisan, lawmakers self-identify as Republican, Democrat, or independent and vote party lines. McDonnell's decision gives Republicans 33 of 49 legislative seats.  

Republican experts praised the decision for providing Republicans a filibuster-proof majority and a winner-take-all chance. U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts and Rep. Mike Flood, Nebraska Republicans, welcomed McDonnell and urged the Legislature to enact a winner-take-all law.  

Republican state Sen. Julie Slama obeyed Pillen by attaching a winner-take-all bill stuck in committee as an amendment to an unrelated bill, which is against the Nebraska Constitution. Slama advised her colleagues to ignore the law when the amendment was challenged. “Germanenous means what we want in the Nebraska Legislature,” she remarked. The courts have largely backed how we control ourselves, and if we have the votes, they will likely declare it is germane.” The window to modify Nebraska's system this year is limited, she added.  

“If you want winner-take-all in Nebraska, this is your chance,” she said. Last train out of the station.” The amendment was rejected by the Republican presiding officer, and the vote to overturn it failed decisively.

Kirk tweeted Thursday that the GOP will try again in the coming days to attach a winner-take-all amendment to another unrelated bill. Many state lawmakers were skeptical. Slama said on X it's doubtful. “It won’t come up for vote again,” she wrote. “Winner Takes All isn’t moving in 2024.”  

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