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Ebke said she expected party officials to target her in the election and acknowledged they might succeed. Incumbents have traditionally fared well in Nebraska legislative races, but in 2016, three moderate Republican senators lost their seats after the governor endorsed and contributed to more conservative challengers. Ricketts said the senators were defeated because they didn’t reflect their conservative districts.

“I am fully aware that I’m in a precarious position here, especially when you have the financial power of the governor,” Ebke said.

Another Republican hopeful, Tom Brandt, said he jumped into the race in March out of frustration that lawmakers haven’t done more to address rising agricultural property taxes or provided additional state funding for rural schools. He said he’s relying on name recognition from his involvement with local farm, church and sports groups and his county GOP.

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