Sen. Mike Johanns said it simply was time.
Johanns, speaking to reporters in Nebraska, stated he had been considering an end to public service and only recently decided that he would not seek re-election in 2014.
“And what it came down to is it was just time,” Johanns, a Republican, said during a hastily called news conference at the Sarpy County Courthouse in Papillion. “We always thought to ourselves that there would be a time. We would know when that time arrived and that time has arrived.”
Though he denies his health had anything to do with his decisions, Johanns acknowledged that a few years ago he had the scare of his life.
“A test revealed that I had a spot on my lung and for a number of months we lived with the possibility that that spot was probably cancer,” Johanns said. “Finally, there had been enough of a change that doctors decided they should see what that was and do surgery and when I went into surgery, I thought I had lung cancer.”
Johanns said that he and his wife, Stephanie, had prepared for the worse, but further test discovered no cancer.
Still, the brush with the dreaded disease gave him pause.
Johanns also denied that he is leaving the United States Senate to cash in with a lucrative offer in the private sector.
“Nothing has to do with a big that’s out there. There is no big job out there. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do next in my life other than I’ll go back to Washington and, you know, do the job I was elected to do,” according to Johanns. “So, we just kind of came to the conclusion that now was time.”
Johanns said he and Stephanie had been pondering the decision and he knew the political questions about his possible re-election run would begin soon.
“We kind of came to a final conclusion in the last week,” Johanns said. “We’ve thought about this, talked about it and prayed about it for a while.”
Johanns is 63. He has held a number of public offices, including mayor of Lincoln, governor, and Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. He was elected to the United States Senate in 2008.
Johanns and his wife Stephanie have two children and five grandchildren.
Tom Stanton, KFAB, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns explains why he decided against running for re-election. [2 min.]