Sen. Mike Johanns announced Monday that he has no plans to seek a second term in 2014 because his long political career as Nebraska’s governor and former President George W. Bush’s agriculture secretary have totally drained him.
The Republican senator said that he wants to spend some quiet time with his family after enduring a total of 16 primaries and general election campaigns together with his wife. Over a span of 32 years, Johanns and his wife, Stephanie, a former state legislator, held eight offices. However, now they feel that it’s time to put an end to their public careers in search of some peace.
“That’s enough,” Johanns said. “We just felt, both Steph and I, that it was time. That’s really what we talked most about. We always said we’d know when it was time. And it was time.”
Several GOP insiders were surprised by Johanns’ sudden announcement to retire. Many Republicans have praised the senator for his friendly nature and thoughtfulness at a time when both parties stand at stark differences from each other.
"I am personally grateful for Mike's leadership in the Senate and all he has done in helping to smooth my transition," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), 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."
The 62-year-old senator won his first term in 2009 and did not have any re-election threat at the time. However, his announcement to retire has opened the 2014 race in Nebraska, which is a highly Republican leaning state with most of the congressional seats held by GOP.
Possible candidates to fill in his position may be Gov. Dave Heineman and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry from Nebraska.
Heineman, upon the news of Johanns taking retirement, also spoke highly of the senator, calling him an outstanding public official. Heinman declined to run for the Senate seat in 2011, saying that he wanted to focus on his governor duties, but now, he thinks the time is appropriate to give the prospect its due consideration.