LINCOLN — The 2012 campaign has just ended, but the 2014 race for Nebraska governor will soon see its first declared candidate.
State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, speaker of the Legislature, is expected to make his run for governor official at an event Monday night in his hometown.
Flood, a 37-year-old radio station owner and attorney, is the first of what could be many GOP candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Dave Heineman, who will leave office after 2014 due to term limits.
Another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, said Friday he is “seriously considering” running for governor.
More than a year ago, Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy told reporters that he plans to seek the state's top post.
Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg also are considered possible entrants. Both ran unsuccessfully in the Republican U.S. Senate primary this year.
Democrats have at least a trio considering a run for governor: State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons.
Flood, who earned a reputation for working out compromises on tough legislative issues, said he drove 26,672 miles and visited 71 communities since June to weigh support for a run.
He said he delayed announcing until after Tuesday's election in deference to his colleague State Sen. Deb Fischer, whose run for U.S. Senate was the top priority for Nebraska Republicans this fall.
An advertisement in Saturday's Norfolk Daily News invites residents to a “special announcement” by Flood and his wife, Mandi, at Divots Conference Center in Norfolk.
“You can guess what I'm going to say,” Flood said in an interview. “For anyone considering public service, you can't compare the experience of driving across the state and talking to Nebraskans. I've been encouraged along the way.”
The senator, who is leaving the Legislature after eight years, won passage of bills to switch the state's method of execution to lethal injection, to crack down on repeat drunken drivers and to ban most abortions after 20 weeks because that's when some experts say fetuses first feel pain.
As speaker, he helped craft compromises on controversial issues, including embryonic stem cell research, collective bargaining and the location of the Nebraska State Fair.
Janssen, 41, said he's been encouraged to run by people “who are looking for a strong conservative like myself who doesn't compromise on principles.”
He easily won re-election Tuesday for a second term in the Legislature.
He is best known for his introduction of tougher laws on illegal immigrants. Janssen has pledged to try again next year to get such a law passed, but he recently conceded that it will be difficult to advance it from the Judiciary Committee.
Janssen's candidacy would provide a contrast to Flood, who was one of the prime backers of a law passed this year to restore government-paid prenatal services for illegal immigrants. Flood said being an abortion opponent meant supporting such preventive health care.
Vince Powers, chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said the party will have a strong candidate for governor.
“Unlike the Republicans, we're going to take a couple of weeks and enjoy life,” Power said.
For the first time in 36 years, Republicans will occupy all five of Nebraska's seats in Congress. The GOP already holds all state constitutional offices.
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