Jim Pillen (born December 31, 1955)[1] is an American businessman and politician.

A livestock producer and veterinarian based in Columbus, Nebraska, he is a member of the Nebraska State Board of Regents and its former chair. Pillen is the Republican nominee for governor of Nebraska in the 2022 election.[2]

Early life and education

Pillen was born in Columbus, Nebraska. After graduating from Lakeview Junior-Senior High School in 1974, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.[3] From 1975 to 1978, he was a defensive back for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team under Tom Osborne.[4][5] Pillen was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2004.[6]


Pillen is a practicing veterinarian and also works as chair of Pillen Family Farms. The business, which is operated with members of Pillen’s family, acquired DNA Genetics in 2003.[7] Pillen has also worked as president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Columbus Community Hospital Board of Directors.[8] Pillen has served on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents (which governs the University of Nebraska System) since 2012, holding the position of both vice-chairman and chairman in 2018 and 2020, respectively.[3]

Pillen is the Republican nominee in the 2022 Nebraska gubernatorial election.[9][10] During the Republican primary election, he refused to debate his primary rivals.[11][12][13] Pillen was endorsed by incumbent Governor Pete Ricketts and former Governor Kay A. Orr.[14][15] In a crowded field of primary candidates, Pillen won the nomination with about 33.75% of the vote, defeating Charles Herbster (who received 30.13%), Brett Lindstrom (25.68%), and Theresa Thibodeau (6.05%).[16][9] Pillen’s running mate is former U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Kelly.[17][18] Pillen campaigned on opposing abortion and critical race theory.[16]

Personal life

Pillen and his wife, Suzanne, have four children and seven grandchildren.[19] Pillen is a Roman Catholic.[20]


  1. ^ “Jim Pillen – 1978 – Football”. University of Nebraska. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  2. ^ Rob McCartney, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen talks on his ‘Pillen Playbook’ and his strategy behind running for governor, KETV (April 19, 2022).
  3. ^ a b “Nebraska Board of Regents Member Jim Pillen”. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  4. ^ Murtaugh, Jerry; Sheil, Jimmy; Rosenthal, Brian; Achola, George; Brashaw, Brian (October 1, 2015). If These Walls Could Talk: Nebraska Cornhuskers: Stories From the Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box. Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-63319-330-7.
  5. ^ Williams, Pat; Babcock, Mike (December 26, 2012). Tom Osborne On Leadership: Life Lessons from a Three-Time National Championship Coach. Advantage Media Group. ISBN 978-1-59932-379-4.
  6. ^ Apr 7 (April 7, 2021). “NU Regent, Former Husker Football Player Jim Pillen Announces Bid For Governor”. KFOR FM 103.3 1240 AM. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  7. ^ “The Founding Story of Pillen Family Farms and What Comes Next | Jim Pillen – Popular Pig”. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  8. ^ McCartney, Rob (April 20, 2022). “University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen talks on his ‘Pillen Playbook’ and his strategy behind running for governor”. KETV. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Panetta, Brent D. Griffiths, Grace. “Jim Pillen defeats crowded field and Trump ally to win GOP Nebraska governor primary”. Business Insider. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  10. ^ Epstein, Reid J. (April 30, 2022). “Nebraska Candidate for Governor Accused of Second Groping Incident at 2019 Dinner”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  11. ^ Pillen says no to primary debates; Thibodeau says he should drop out of the race, NTV News (March 10, 2022).
  12. ^ Sara Gentzler, Jim Pillen turns down another debate, rankling fellow GOP candidates for governor ,Omaha World-Herald (March 10, 2022).
  13. ^ David Siders, Debate-dodging takes off in midterm campaigns, Politico (March 29, 2022).
  14. ^ Epstein, Reid J. (May 7, 2022). “In Nebraska, a Trump-Inspired Candidate Cracks Open Divide in the G.O.P.” The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  15. ^ “Ricketts endorses fellow Republican Jim Pillen for governor”. AP NEWS. January 18, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  16. ^ a b Bauer, Will (May 9, 2022). “Race results: Trump’s endorsement fails in Nebraska GOP governor primary”. NPR. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  17. ^ “Republican Jim Pillen adds prosecutor Joe Kelly to ticket”. AP NEWS. April 5, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  18. ^ Epstein, Reid J. (May 11, 2022). “Jim Pillen upends a Trump-backed rival to win Nebraska’s G.O.P. primary for governor”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  19. ^ Gentzler, Sara. “Does having kids matter in Nebraska governor race? Pillen and Herbster disagree”. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  20. ^ “Jim Pillen”. jimpillen.com. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
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