Updated 4:46 p.m. | Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman will take “a few days” to consider a run to succeed fellow Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Heineman would be the heavy front-runner if he decided to enter the race to succeed Johanns, who surprised politicos in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska when he announced his retirement plans on Monday.
“As far as Senate, it’s a little different situation this time [than in 2011],” Heineman told the newspaper. One major difference? He is term-limited at the end of his current term that ends in 2014.
He added that he has never “indicated that being in the Senate is my dream job.”
Given the governor’s previous reluctance to run, other potential candidates aren’t waiting for Heineman’s decision to announce they are weighing the race.
“I will consider a run for the United States Senate,” Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said in a statement on Monday. “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 governor decided against running for the state’s open Senate seat in 2012, although national Republicans lobbied him to run and he briefly revisited the idea.
Heineman has the ability to essentially clear the GOP field if he decides to run. If he doesn’t run, the GOP candidate names in the mix are state Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg, businessman Pete Ricketts and Reps. Lee Terry and Adrian Smith, in addition to Fortenberry.
A GOP source has suggested an additional contender: former one-term state Treasurer Shane Osborn. A former naval aviator, he earned several military honors for his piloting and leadership during a 2001 international incident when his plane collided with a Chinese jet over the South China Sea, according to The New York Times.
In the current political environment, it will be difficult for Democrats to have a serious chance at winning the seat. CQ Roll Call rates the race as Safe Republican.