Nebraska Democrats should soon have a gubernatorial nominee, seven weeks after the primary. The Nebraska Supreme Court this week ordered the State Board of Canvassers to certify a winner in the Democratic gubernatorial race by Monday or explain why it cannot.

Unofficial tallies from a recount of the May 15 Democratic primary showed Ben Nelson with a 32-vote lead over Bill Hoppner. This was down from Nelson's original 41-vote lead, but the board did not certify the results last week and ordered a second recount in 23 of the state's 93 counties. As of Friday, Nelson's lead was back to 41 votes, leaving it the closest party primary ever in the state.

Nelson, an Omaha lawyer, had asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to order the board to certify the results and declare him the primary winner. Meanwhile, Hoppner, a former aide to Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), let pass the Monday deadline for filing a threatened challenge to the election.

Once they have a nominee, Democrats think they have an opportunity to recapture the governorship. A mid-April statewide poll by the Omaha World-Herald showed Republican Gov. Kay A. Orr's approval rating was 39 percent while her disapproval rating was 51 percent.