Gov. Dave Heineman said he will consider running for the United States Senate, but won’t commit to the race.
Heineman has become the focus of attention in wake of the decision by Sen. Mike Johanns to step down after completing his term in the United States Senate. Heineman, a two-term governor, served as Lieutenant Governor under Johanns and became Governor when President George W. Bush chose Johanns as Secretary of Agriculture.
Heineman cannot seek re-election in 2014, due to term limits, freeing him to seek the Senate seat Johanns will vacate.
The speculation arising from Johanns’ decision, though, is premature, according to Heineman.
“I’ll think about it, but I don’t want you to misinterpret that. I’ll think about,” Heineman told reporters during a media availability in his Capitol office. “I’ve always been very, very clear, I love being the governor of this great state. That’s always been my dream job. I’m fully committed to this job. I wake up every day excited and challenged by this opportunity and until a few hours ago I wasn’t even thinking about the United States Senate.”
It seems a natural progression for the governor who stepped up to Lt. Governor from state Treasurer, took over for Johanns and won two terms on his own, the last by one of the largest margins in Nebraska history.
Still, Heineman stuck with his theme. He insisted he will think about the race and repeatedly cautioned not to misinterpret that. Heineman indicated there was no natural lure to a Senate race.
“My heart’s in Nebraska, not Washington, D.C.”
But, Heineman said he understood the interest.
“I understand how the political situation works, ok?” Heineman stated. “When you’re the governor of a state, it’s not unusual that people are going to ask you to think about running for the United States Senate. That happened two years ago, I suspect it will happen again. And again, thinking does not mean I’m running.”
Much speculation centered on Heineman two years ago when it appeared two two-term governors might face each other in a race for United States Senate. Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, decided not to run for re-election. Heineman decided against a run. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican state senator, defeated former Gov. Bob Kerrey to win Nelson’s seat.
Republicans hold all of the Congressional seats in Nebraska. The party is anxious to maintain that control and hold on to Johanns’ Senate seat.
“I understand the importance of that job and what it means to this country and what it means for our state. So, it’s only appropriate to think about it,” according to Heineman. “But, again, I just don’t want everybody jumping to conclusions. That would be totally inappropriate.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:35]