Gov. Dave Heineman has entered the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary race and has endorsed Attorney General Jon Bruning.
“There are three key issues in the governor’s race for me: experience, economic development and education. As governor, in order to be an effective leader, experience in state government is important and Jon Bruning has significant experience,” Heineman told a news conference at the Sheraton Omaha Hotel.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert joined Heineman at the news conference to add her endorsement to Bruning’s campaign.
Bruning called the endorsements significant.
“Well, I think this is an enormous day for our campaign. I said to the governor and Mayor Stothert before we came in this is rocket fuel for our campaign,” Bruning stated.
Heineman said he wasn’t hesitant to step into the party primary and make an endorsement.
“This is an important race. This is the highest office in this state and people really care about it and it is pretty obvious, because we have six candidates, we have competition on our side,” Heineman said. “It’s been difficult for the voters. They keep asking me and so, I came to the conclusion that I was going to tell everybody who I was for and I am for Jon Bruning.”
Heineman said it was difficult to choose among the six candidates for governor, especially since Omaha tax attorney Bryan Slone has worked on his campaigns in the past and state Senate Beau McCoy of Omaha was one of his closest allies in the Unicameral.
“But, at the end of the day, I think most of us know at this time it’s pretty much down to a two-way race and Nebraskans kept asking me and I wanted to be straightforward today. Again, I believe Jon Bruning should be the next governor of Nebraska.”
Heineman referred to the perceived front-runner status of Bruning and the close competition coming from former TD Ameritrade executive Pete Ricketts.
Ricketts issued a statement:
“While I appreciate Gov. Heineman’s service to the state, this decision is no surprise – Jon is a status quo candidate and a career bureaucrat. The choice is now crystal clear: status quo and ‘auto pilot’ versus reform and growth.
“We live the good life, but much work is needed to make it better. We have the third worst tax burden in the nation, our largest state agency is riddled with mismanagement, and entire regions of our state feel isolated and neglected by Lincoln. We need to grow as a state – united by strategic vision.
“Now is no time for ‘auto pilot.’ For effective reform and growth that benefits all Nebraskans, you need someone with the real-world experience to fix systems and improve services, cut costs, lower taxes, and create better jobs.”
Others in the race include state Auditor Mike Foley and state Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege.
AUDIO: Republican Jon Bruning news conference to announce endorsement of Gov. Dave Heineman. [7:20]