Last September, both Governor Kristi Noem and the man who loaned her planes and won her endorsement in the Nebraska GOP gubernatorial primary, Charles Herbster, cut ties with Corey Lewandowski over allegations that he sexually harassed big GOP donor Trashelle Odom of Idaho at a Las Vegas fundraiser. Keeping her distance from Lewandowski made extra practical sense for Noem, as she needed to quash unproven rumors that she and Lewandowski were cheating on their spouses with each other.
It is thus noteworthy that Charles Herbster apparently invited both Lewandowski and Noem to his election night party this week Tuesday at the Lincoln Station Great Hall in Lincoln, Nebraska, an even that turned funereal as the election returns showed Herbster losing to fellow culture-warrior Jim Pillen. Even more noteworthy is the fact that, in a display of sheer tone-deafness, as he delivered his defeat speech, Herbster invited Lewandowski to join him on stage, and then immediately after Lewandowski finished, invited Noem to join him and the campaign advisor they supposedly were done with on stage.
Lewandowski starts speaking at Herbster’s podium at 12:30 in this video from the Lincoln Journal Star.
Lewandowski blows smoke for about 50 seconds. He and Herbster hug. At 13:25, Herbster says, “And then, I want to bring up America’s Governor” (that’s Lewandowski’s marketing line) “Governor Kristi Noem!”
There’s applause and whoops and eager looks. Herbster points and looks stage left, as do the visible members of his stage party, as if they all had a pretty good idea of where America’s Governor was last spotted. “She’s somewhere!” says someone off camera. “She’s here somewhere—I don’t know where.”
The applause dies quickly. “She here?” Herbster asks in a silence not quite as awkward as the scene that Noem avoided.
“She was,” replies the off-camera voice. Off-camera man adds a couple more syllables unintelligible to us listeners. Herbster says “O.K.,’ shrugs, and ums his way toward another thank you and a promise that, “If somebody can find her, we’ll visit a little bit, and then we’ll bring her back up here.” He rambles on about liberals and illegal aliens and drugs and cops and safety and prime rib. But Noem still weighs on his mind. At 16:05, he asked, “Is Kristi here yet? Anybody?” as if having her speak was a key point of the planned remarks, as if he expected her to be in the house and on the stage with him, even in defeat, even next to the toxic Lewandowski. But no one has eyes on Kristi, who’s probably storming out of the building with her dragooned South Dakota Highway Patrol bodyguards to get back in the black limo 4×4 and onto 180 and the airport as fast as she can.
What were you thinking, Charles? Did you think that because Lewandowski and Noem posed together at Chuck Norris’s fundraiser in Texas a month ago that Noem would see no optical problem with standing and speaking live on stage with the campaign advisor you both said you were cutting off but whom you just spotlighted as a vital part of your campaign? Did you think Noem really wanted the image beaming out to all the world of her standing between two sleazy gropemongers and a loser to boot? You make Noem look bad by losing in a race in which she conspicuously expended her flimsy political capital, and then you ask her to share your loser’s spotlight with the creep a lot of people think she was boinking?
Perhaps that political density helps explain how Herbster blew the lead he thought he could buy with his own millions.
p.s.: Kristi may actually have put in a long day to face this embarrassment at Chuck’s party. On Tuesday, May 10, at 10:23 p.m. and 10:53 p.m., Noem tweeted photos of herself at the Beadle County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner at the Crossroads in Huron Tuesday evening. Noem was listed as the keynote speaker at the event. The social hour started at 5:30; dinner started at 6 p.m.
Update 2022.05.13 05:43 CDT—Aerial Trivia: A private jet, Cessna Citation CJ1, tail number N417Q, owned by CP Holdings of Watertown, flew from Watertown to Huron on Tuesday evening, arriving at 7:08 p.m. N417Q took off from Huron at 7:43 p.m. and arrived in Lincoln at 8:36 p.m. The jet remained in Lincoln overnight, then took off Wednesday morning at 8:08 a.m. and flew to Pierre, arriving at 8:57 a.m. N417Q departed Pierre at 9:15 a.m. and returned to base in Watertown at 9:47 a.m.
The same jet flew from Watertown to Millard airport in Omaha on Saturday evening, May 7, arriving at 8:28 p.m. N417Q took off from Omaha at 9:04 p.m. and landed at Miller Field in Valentine at 10:12 p.m. The craft remained in Valentine until Monday evening, May 9, when it took off from Miller Field at 7:21 p.m., then landed at Millard in Omaha at 8:04 p.m. N417Q departed Omaha that evening at 8:23 p.m. and returned to base in Watertown at 9:11 p.m. The jet left Watertown Tuesday morning, May 10, at 7:26 a.m. and landed at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls at 7:47 a.m. N417Q spent the workday in Sioux Falls before departing at 5:17 p.m. and landing in Watertown at 5:36 p.m. before the jaunt to Lincoln.
A week earlier, N417Q made two trips from Watertown to Nashville and back, leaving Saturday evening, April 30, and returning Sunday evening, May 1, then heading again to Nashville Monday morning, May 2, staying for about three and a half hours, then returning to Watertown late that afternoon. Nashville happens to be where Governor Noem’s older daughter Kennedy goes to grad school at Belmont University.
According to Camber private charter service, chartering a jet to fly from Huron to Lincoln costs $11,769.