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Warren Buffett endorses Jean Stothert for third term as Omaha mayor

Warren Buffett endorses Jean Stothert for third term as Omaha mayor

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Warren Buffett

Mayor Jean Stothert and RJ Neary will move on from the city primary as the top two vote-getters.

Warren Buffett signed a check for $10,000 to Mayor Jean Stothert’s campaign Thursday, but his words will mean a lot more to her than those dollars.

The longtime Democrat offered a strong endorsement for the Republican’s election to a third term as Omaha’s mayor.

“I think it’s important that Omaha have a terrific mayor,” said the iconic investor, who is arguably the city’s most well-known citizen. “It’s an important job, and we have someone very good in that job.”

The Berkshire Hathaway chairman said in an interview that his endorsement was in part based on the positive trajectory of the city, which he said he’s proud to show off to the rest of the world during his shareholders meeting each year.

He said Stothert has also helped the city keep moving forward during the past year despite the pandemic.

“I think Omaha has so much going for it — it’s got momentum in terms of business activity and civic engagement,” he said. “Omaha is doing well and is going to do better. ... (Stothert) is a proven quantity under testing circumstances.”

Stothert was naturally thankful to receive Buffett’s endorsement as she faces Democrat RJ Neary next month in the city’s officially nonpartisan election.

“I’m thrilled and honored by Mr. Buffett’s support and endorsement of my re-election,” she said in a statement. “I have always admired Mr. Buffett, and that he has always called Omaha home. His business success, experience and judgment are legendary. Thank you, Mr. Buffett.”

Neary did not mention Buffett’s endorsement in a response, instead repeating some of his main campaign themes.

“For many Omahans forced to work two to three jobs, the city isn’t working for them,” he said. “I am the candidate ready to work alongside the people of Omaha to create a better city that works for everyone. We can’t have four more years of status quo — it’s time for change.”

Campaign finance records show that Stothert had raised about $1.37 million from the beginning of her second term in 2017 through late March.

Neary, a first-time candidate who announced his campaign in December, had raised almost $590,000 through March 22.

Buffett has been a registered Democrat for decades, but he said he doesn’t consider himself a “card-carrying Democrat.” He said he chooses candidates from either party based on “brains and character.”

It does not appear that he has publicly endorsed a candidate for mayor in recent years. When he did so on Thursday, he likened it to his efforts within Berkshire Hathaway to retain talented leadership.

“We’ve got good leadership,” he said. “Good leadership should not be taken for granted.”

World-Herald Staff Writer Reece Ristau contributed to this report.

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Reporter - Metro News

Henry is a general assignment reporter, but his specialty is deep dives into state issues and public policy. He's also into the numbers behind a story, yet to meet a spreadsheet he didn't like. Follow him on Twitter @HenryCordes. Phone: 402-444-1130.

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