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State Primary on May 15, 2014
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Nebraska Senate Candidates 2014 News
Nebraska Sen. Johanns says he won't see re-election
INCOLN, Neb. – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, saying he wants a "quieter time" to focus on his family following a busy political career that included stints as governor and President George W. Bush's agriculture secretary.
The Nebraska Republican announced that he was retiring from the Senate after one term. He said he and his wife, Stephanie, had decided that the time has come to end a 32-year career in public service that has spanned more than half of his life.
In an interview, Johanns rejected the notion that he was leaving because of heightened partisanship in the U.S. Senate.
"I've just always kind of had the attitude that you find ways to work together," Johanns said. "I know what the polling shows with Congress' approval ratings, and the anger and frustration that we all feel. But having said that, the people I worked with in the Senate were great. It wasn't frustration. This was just a decision that it's time."
Johanns, 62, joined the U.S. Senate in 2009 and did not appear to face any re-election threat. He served as agriculture secretary under Bush and was Nebraska's governor from 1999 to 2005.
The announcement came as a surprise to many GOP insiders. Several Republican office-holders praised Johanns for his collegiality and thoughtfulness in a deeply divided Washington. Johanns was a member of the "Gang of Eight" that tried to negotiate a federal deficit-reduction deal in 2011.
"I am personally grateful for Mike's leadership in the Senate and all he has done in helping to smooth my transition," said U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican who was sworn in for her first term in January. "His rare mix of strong leadership and warm collegiality has earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. While I am fortunate to have two more years to serve alongside him, I am sad to see Mike leave the Senate."
Johanns' decision to retire opens a new 2014 race in Nebraska, a solidly red state where Republicans hold all the congressional seats.
His departure could leave an opening for Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who is leaving office in 2014 because of term limits. Heineman was courted by national party officials after Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson announced in 2011 that he was retiring. But Heineman declined to enter the race at the time, saying he wanted to focus on his work as governor.