POLITICS
02/20/2013 05:56 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

Dave Heineman Hints He May Not Run For Senate

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) suggested he would not run for the U.S. Senate next year, saying the chamber's lack of discipline is "a factor" in his decision.

Heineman told the Lincoln Journal-Star on Wednesday that he is considering a run for the seat of Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who announced Monday that he would not seek a second term. At the same time, Heineman said he has reservations about serving in the Senate.

The Journal-Star reports:

In comparative terms, the Senate essentially has "no discipline, no organization," he said. "And I wish there was a better spirit and attitude there of working together as we do in government in Nebraska."

"Yes, that's a factor" in his consideration, the governor said.

"I'd rather live in Nebraska than Washington," he said, but he knows living adjustments can be made that allow him to be in Nebraska much of the time.

Heineman also noted that it would be a difference for him to move into a legislative role after being an executive. He said that being a senator would allow him to work on foreign policy.

Heineman, Nebraska's longest-serving governor, will be out of office in January 2015 after a decade in the governor's mansion. He has not indicated his future plans. The end of his term coincides with the expiration of Johanns' Senate term. Heineman succeeded Johanns as governor in 2005, when Johanns stepped down to become agriculture secretary in President George W. Bush's cabinet.

Heineman is the leading contender for the Senate seat, given his dominance of Nebraska politics over the last decade and his 20 years in statewide office. Heineman served as state treasurer and lieutenant governor before becoming governor. As lieutenant governor, he served as Nebraska's homeland security director. His only legislative experience is a four-year stint as a city councilman in Fremont in the early 1990s.

Heineman declined to run for the Senate in 2012, when Sen. Ben Nelson (D) retired. Heineman served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 2011 to 2012, where he championed an initiative focused on economic growth in the states.

The Associated Press reported that Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Adrian Smith, Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg and former state treasurer Shane Osborn are potential Republican contenders if Heineman does not run. Bruning and Stenberg lost the 2012 GOP Senate primary to Sen. Deb Fischer (R). Stenberg, a former state attorney general, lost Senate bids in 1996, 2000 and 2006.

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