Republican gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau named her running mate Thursday: Trent Loos, a sixth-generation farmer, agriculture advocate and right-wing radio host from central Nebraska.
Thibodeau, a former state senator and day care owner from Omaha, made the announcement Thursday evening in Kearney. The two have recently been touring the state together for Thibodeau’s campaign.
The pair presents a striking contrast. Thibodeau said in a statement that she’s heard from Nebraskans that a “one-size-fits-all approach” won’t solve state issues.
“The things that work for Omaha do not work in Valentine or Sidney,” she said. “We must create solutions that benefit every Nebraska community. I am honored to have Trent Loos as my running mate. Trent and I agree that we must bridge the rural versus urban divide for Nebraska to move forward.”
Loos, who lives in Litchfield, has some government ties. Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed him to the Nebraska Capitol Commission, which oversees preservation of the State Capitol in Lincoln, and he also served on former President Donald Trump’s ag advisory committee.
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“I’ve spent 22 years trying to bridge the gap between food producers and food consumers,” he said in an interview. Speaking engagements on that topic have taken him all over the U.S. and overseas, he said.
Loos has helped rally opposition to President Joe Biden’s “30×30” initiative — aimed at conserving 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030 — in Nebraska and elsewhere. He’s demonstrated a wariness of the federal government in other forums, as well.
In 2016, Loos interviewed Ammon Bundy at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, where Bundy was leading an armed occupation. Loos said an invitation to moderate a town hall meeting is what brought him there, and that he didn’t have a role in the occupation.
In columns for the High Plains Journal, Loos has claimed that the environmental movement has roots in Nazism and that plans related to carbon emissions are actually aimed at depopulating the Earth. In an interview, he stood by both and said the latter was referencing efforts to sequester carbon.
He also backed baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. On Jan. 6, 2021, Loos interviewed a person who was in Washington, D.C., by video. At the end of the interview, Loos described the setting as “events and activities and we the people are speaking up for the future of liberty and freedom.”
About a week later, Loos tweeted that “even a blind man saw the election fraud that will be exposed this week.”
Thibodeau joined the race late and has lagged behind GOP front-runners in fundraising and polling.
Before launching her own bid, she was the running mate of fellow Republican Charles W. Herbster, a Falls City farmer and rancher who owns multiple businesses across five states. She has recently called that campaign “chaotic” and “disorganized” and said Herbster doesn’t have a grasp on Nebraska policy.
Loos said he was connected with Thibodeau through a mutual friend before she made her decision to run.
“I think it’s vitally important that we have the right governor follow (Ricketts) and continue to empower the people of this state instead of allowing any federal tyranny or any rights to be eroded,” he said. “Theresa was the one that does that.”
State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha is the only of the three Republican front-runners who has announced a running mate: former State Director of Economic Development Dave Rippe.
Herbster has not announced a running mate and neither has Jim Pillen, a Columbus hog producer and University of Nebraska Regent. On the other side of the ticket, Democrat Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue recently announced Al Davis, a former senator and rancher from western Nebraska, as her pick.