Gov. Dave Heineman says he has a passion for being governor, but doesn’t have the same passion for being a United States Senator, which led to his decision not to run for Senate in 2014.
It is the second time Heineman has decided against running for Senate.
Heineman, a Republican, declined to get into the race in 2012 when Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election. Republican state Sen. Deb Fischer defeated former Gov. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, to win that race.
When Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, announced he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014, all eyes turned to Heineman as the most likely Republican front-runner. Heineman served as Johanns’ Lt. Governor and became Governor when Johanns was selected as Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. Heineman has won the seat in his own right twice.
Heineman tells news reporters gathered at the Capitol for a news conference on the state budget that the decision allows him to focus on his last two years as governor, working to lower taxes, create jobs and improve education.
Heineman says he talked to a number of former governors who now serve in the United States Senate to help him reach his decision.
“They confirmed for me that when a governor goes to the United States Senate, you better be prepared to take off your governor hat, where you can make immediate decisions, daily decisions to move your state forward,” Heineman says. “And you’re going to put on another hat where the process is much slower that can be very frustrating at times and you will be debating issues for 10 years that most Americans already know the answer to.”
Heineman says two issues became critical in his decision-making process. One, he wants to keep his focus as governor on education, jobs and tax relief through the 2014 legislative session.
“Secondly, I have a passion for being the governor of this state. I do not have the same passion for being in the United States Senate and I knew if I decided to run for Senate, it would distract from everything that I was doing as governor,” Heineman says.
Heineman says it is more important to bring tax relief and tax reform to Nebraska residents and businesses than to seek higher office.
“It took a little longer than I thought,” Heineman says of the decision-making process.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman discusses his decision not to run for United States Senate. [6:35]