CALLAWAY — Former independent U.S. Senate candidate Jim Jenkins has become the first announced candidate for three open west central Nebraska legislative seats in the 2022 election.
Jenkins, a Callaway-area rancher who lost a 2014 Senate bid to Republican nominee Ben Sasse, said Tuesday he’ll run for the District 36 Unicameral seat.
He hopes to succeed two-term incumbent state Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg, who is term-limited and will serve his last year in the Legislature in 2022.
The district covers all of Custer and Dawson counties and northern Buffalo County, though its boundaries could change when senators use the 2020 U.S. census to redraw district boundaries in a fall special session.
Sens. Mike Groene of North Platte (District 42) and Dan Hughes of Venango (District 44) will leave the Legislature with Williams in January 2023.
Jenkins has more than 35 years of experience in agriculture and food-related industries. He manages his family ranching and cattle-feeding business near Callaway and is a co-owner of Kearney’s Skeeter Barnes restaurant.
He previously helped organize Wild West Inc., owners of the Whiskey Creek Restaurant chain, and has been a past Nebraska Restaurant Association president and Nebraska Ethanol Board chairman.
He took part in the statewide Blueprint Nebraska planning process and is a board member of the Platte Institute.
Jenkins said he announced his Unicameral candidacy early so he could meet and discuss the issues with as many people around the district as possible.
“As I have traveled and talked with people in the district, I am impressed with all of the good things that are happening even in the midst of a pandemic,” he said in a press release.
“If elected, I look forward to working closely with the many talented people in the district on those issues critical to our success.”
Jenkins said he would stress working together with rural- and urban-based lawmakers alike if he succeeds Williams.
“We have good leaders throughout the district who reflect the value and importance of working together,” he said. “One of the critical tasks of a rural senator is to communicate the importance of agriculture and small business to the state’s economy. ...
“Since agriculture is literally the foundation on which our state economy is built, urban and rural senators must work together for the benefit of all Nebraskans.”