Rob Dover, Norfolk real estate developer/manager, is Nebraska’s newest state senator

By: - July 22, 2022 12:15 pm
rob dover

Rob Dover, head of a Norfolk real-estate company and firms that manage and develop properties, takes the oath of office Friday to join the Nebraska Legislature. Administering the oath, right, is Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen. Holding the Bible is Dover’s wife, Ann. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Robert “Rob” Dover, president of a real estate firm in Norfolk and companies that manage and develop properties, is Nebraska’s newest state senator.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, in a brief swearing-in ceremony Friday, announced the appointment, filling the vacancy in the Nebraska Legislature’s 19th District.

Former State Sen. Mike Flood resigned after being chosen, in a special election, to serve out the remainder of the term of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who left office after being convicted of lying to federal agents investigating illegal campaign contributions.

Pledges to run in ’24

Dover will serve until January 2025, and the governor said Dover has pledged to run for election to the seat in 2024.

Ricketts said he was impressed with Dover’s background as an entrepreneur and with the fact that he has created jobs “and really invested in the Norfolk area,” as well with as his civic activities.

“I also know he’s going to be solid on conservative values. He’s going to be pro-life, he’s going to be defending our Second Amendment values,” the governor said.

Rob Dover
State Sen. Robert “Rob” Dover of Norfolk
(Courtesy of office of Gov. Ricketts)

Dover, who served on the Nebraska Real Estate Commission from 2007-13, is president of Coldwell Banker Dover Realtors, a firm founded by his father in 1963. He also heads Dover Management Company, which manages residential and commercial property, and is vice president of Whitecliff Development, which has undertaken multiple development projects.

Will work to cut taxes

“I’ll work in the Legislature to help reduce the tax burden on Nebraska’s families,” he said. “I’ll also use my education and experience in finance to ensure the State wisely stewards taxpayer dollars.”

Dover, a registered Republican, listed Flood and another former state senator, Jim Scheer, as references.

Others who applied for the job, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request of the governor’s office, were Norfolk businessman Carl Weiland; Randy Dee, a re-employment coordinator with the state; Dan Spray, owner of an internet firm; Rick Benson, a retired Nucor Steel employee; Dr. Daniel Wik, a pain management specialist; Michael Vincent, pastor of Victory Road Evangelical Free Church; and Neil Johnson, owner of a hay grinding business.

Applicants outside the district

Two stay-at-home dads from Lincoln, Mat Thompson, and Chris Lawrence, and a floor tech from Lincoln, Dan Brill, also applied for the post, as did Larry Bolinger of Alliance, a student and candidate for state attorney general for the Legal Marijuana NOW Party.

A Ricketts spokeswoman said that the governor has a policy of not considering candidates who live outside of the legislative district. State law requires that person live in a legislative district at least one year before taking office.

Dover’s opposition to abortion rights mirrors that of Flood. That is important as Ricketts, who opposes abortion, searches for the 33 votes needed to pass an abortion ban, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision tossing out the right to abortion.

Special session uncertain

This spring, the Nebraska Legislature fell two votes short — 31 votes of the 33 required — of heading off a filibuster that killed a proposed “trigger” bill to enact an abortion ban if the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.

Earlier this week, Ricketts said he’s still working with the Speaker of the Legislature, Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers, on whether to call a special session to enact an abortion ban.

Sources tell the Nebraska Examiner that the governor still lacks the 33 votes needed to pass such a bill, raising the possibility that a special session will not be held and the issue instead will be debated during the 2023 legislative session.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.