Nebraska's race for governor has been wildly unpredictable and it hasn't even really started. The resignation Saturday of Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, a Republican who had enjoyed the endorsement and fundraising muscle of Gov. Dave Heineman, is the latest surprising turn.
It followed a decision by former Republican Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood to withdraw last December after his wife Mandi was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The list of possible Republican candidates includes Nebraska Regent Tim Clare, Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, Auditor Mike Foley, Attorney General Jon Bruning and former state Sen. Phil Erdman.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook since this morning of individuals who were perhaps on the fence before, had previously declined, said they were not running or frankly hadn't even given any thought to it,” said Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Mark Fahleson, who sees it being a competitive race. He says it's clear the next governor will be a Republican.
The state's Democratic Party disagrees. “It's just how it works,” said Nebraska Democratic Party Chairman Vince Powers. “When one party is in power for so long there is arrogance, there's scandal, there's corruption and after 16 years people are going to say hey, it’s been too much.”
Democratic candidates who have shown interest include Regent Chuck Hassebrook and state Sen. Steve Lathrop. Some activists are also encouraging state Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton to run.