Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, following sitting member Mike Johanns' surprise retirement announcement.
The Republican governor says he will take a few days to consider joining the race, reports the Omaha World-Herald.
“I don't think I've ever indicated that being in the Senate is my dream job. But, obviously, I have to look at it," said Heineman, who is term-limited from seeking a third full term in the Lincoln Governor’s Mansion.
Heineman would likely be an instant frontrunner if he enters the race. Republicans on the national level wooed him to run for the seat in 2011, but said he preferred to finish out his term as governor. At this point, Heineman can finish his term and still run.
“It’s a little different situation this time. Heineman said.
Heineman, 64, was Johanns’ lieutenant governor and took over the top job in 2005 when Johanns was appointed secretary of agriculture.
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There is some speculation Johanns decided against running for a second term to allow Heineman to run, and that the two have had had a deal in the works for several weeks. However, Heineman denied he knew about Johanns' plans before Monday’s retirement announcement.
"Sen. Johanns called me this morning. First time I knew of it," said Heineman on Monday.
Another potential candidate, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, said Monday he is also considering a run for Johanns' seat, reports Roll Call.
“I will listen to Nebraskans, explore the questions of how I might most effectively serve, and weigh the demands of such an endeavor with my family,” the Republican congressman said.
Other potential GOP candidates include Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg, businessman Pete Ricketts, and Reps. Lee Terry and Adrian Smith.
Former state Treasurer Shane Osborn has also been mentioned by a GOP source. Osborn earned several military honors following a 2001 international incident when the plane he was piloting collided with a Chinese jet over the South China Sea.
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