Pete Ricketts runs for Nebraska governor

September, 9, 2013
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs board member Pete Ricketts is running for governor of Nebraska.

Ricketts, 49, is expected to be one of the Republican frontrunners in the 2014 race, which comes eight years after he lost a Nebraska Senate race to incumbent Democrat Ben Nelson by 28 points. The loss came despite spending a state-record $11.6 million of his own money on the race, according to

Ricketts, who lives in Omaha, was a Republican national committee member from 2007 to 2012 and is the founder of Drakon LLC, an asset management company in Omaha. He is also on the board of TD Ameritrade. He is the only member of the Cubs' board of directors, which consists of four Ricketts siblings and the Tribune Co., that lives outside of the Chicago area.

Ricketts grew up in Omaha and was educated at the University of Chicago before moving back to work at the family business, which is now TD Ameritrade, from 1993 to 2005. He said he is trying for a fresh start in a state that overwhelmingly rejected him in 2006.

"I was brand new to the political world and the thing about that is, you don't know what you don't know," Ricketts told "We're going to do things differently this time. We're going to run a very different race. I'm not getting a lot of D.C. consultants to tell me what to do. I'm surrounding myself with Nebraskans."

Along with their father Joe, who made his money by founding Ameritrade, Pete and his younger brother Todd, a North Shore bicycle magnate, are very active in Republican politics, while their sister Laura Ricketts is a major Democratic donor. Todd is the director and CEO of Joe Ricketts' super PAC, Ending Spending, Inc.

Pete and Todd were at Wrigley Field last week showing around former Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The Ricketts family bought the Cubs and Wrigley Field for $845 million in 2009.

Family politics played a part in delaying the Cubs' biggest project, the $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood.

About a year and a half after debuting the plan, the Cubs thought they had a deal with the city to help finance the renovation in a public-private partnership until a May 17, 2012 New York Times article linked family patriarch Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending Action Fund to a possible $10 million worth of attack ads against President Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential election.

That led to a freeze-out from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who worked in the Obama White House and was helping run his re-election campaign. Eventually that impasse broke. The two sides worked closely together this spring and summer to help the Cubs get a deal to finance the renovations by easing restrictions on signage and construction at Wrigley Field.

Jon Greenberg

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.



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