Gov. Dave Heineman is backing Johanns, his predecessor as governor, in what could be a highly contested GOP primary. Attorney General Jon Bruning is already running, and a pair of prominent businessman could also jump in. No Democrat has announced their candidacy, with all political eyes on former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who is mulling over trying to return to the Senate.
While politicians' endorsements of each other don’t often sway many votes, a high-profile backing like the one Heineman has provided Johanns can create a fundraising boon.
Johanns, in fact, paved Heineman’s way to the governor’s office. Heineman was serving as lieutenant governor when, in January 2005 President Bush tapped Johanns, a former Lincoln mayor, for the Agriculture post. Heineman moved up to the top job, and then defeated Rep. Tom Osborne, a Nebraska football legend, in the Republican primary.
— David Mark