LINCOLN, Nebraska — Democrat Chuck Hassebrook announced Monday he has chosen Lancaster County Commissioner Jane Raybould as his running mate in the Nebraska's governor's race.
Raybould, of Lincoln, officially joined the party ticket during a rally with more than 100 people outside the Capitol.
The 55-year-old was first elected to the county board of commissioners in 2010. She also serves as vice president for operations at B & R Stores, Inc., an employee-owned grocery store company that includes Russ's Market, Super Savers, Save Best Foods and Apple Market.
"Jane is extraordinarily qualified by virtue of her experience in both business and county government," Hassebrook said. "I'm very pleased that Jane will be my partner in working to strengthen education, create jobs and ensure fair pay for women and all Nebraskans."
Adding Raybould to the ticket gives Hassebrook a running mate who is well established in Lincoln, and a potentially attractive candidate for women voters in the male-dominated race. Several women in the crowd chanted "Go, Jane, Go!" as Raybould took the podium.
"I look forward to continuing my service not only to Lancaster County, but to the entire state of Nebraska," she said.
Hassebrook is running against Republican Pete Ricketts in the race to replace Gov. Dave Heineman, who is leaving office due to term limits. Ricketts has selected current Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, an Elk Creek dairy farmer and former state senator, as his running mate.
Hassebrook, of Lyons, said Raybould also provides the ticket with an urban voice. Hassebrook, a former University of Nebraska regent who led the Center for Rural Affairs, has cast himself as a Democrat who can win in conservative rural areas. Raybould, who already served as the campaign's director, was chosen from a field of about five other candidates, said campaign spokeswoman Meg Mandy.
Raybould said Monday she would advocate for local county governments, which have had to cut their budgets in recent years because of reductions in state aid.
She said she agreed with Hassebrook's support for abortion rights, but added that they have agreed to support Nebraska's current abortion laws, which are among the most restrictive in the nation.
"I can't allow my faith to dictate how people make their decisions, and I feel strongly that politicians have no business making decisions for women," said Raybould, who is Catholic. "Women need to make these very tough decisions in consultation with their families, their physicians and their faith.
Raybould said she also signed a petition that would allow voters to decide whether to increase Nebraska's minimum wage. Nebraska also needs to expand Medicaid coverage as part of the federal health care law, she said, citing her experience with the county budget.
Lancaster County pays $2.8 million annually for indigent care, she said, but that population would become insured if Nebraska accepted the expansion, with the federal government picking up most of the cost.
The Nebraska Republican Party criticized the choice of a "liberal Democrat's dream" that will alienate moderates and independents.
"Jane Raybould represents the liberal ideals of Lincoln and is only worried about forcing a liberal agenda on the citizens of Nebraska," party chairman J.L. Spray said in a statement.
Raybould was born and raised in Lincoln. She attended Lincoln Pius X High School before earning bachelor's degrees in political science, business and French from Creighton University and a master's in Russian area students at Georgetown University. She and her husband, Jose Herrero, have two children.