Omaha World Herald 2/18/2013

Mike Johanns wants some “quiet time.”

The Nebraska Republican rocked the state's political world today with the announcement that he would not run for re-election when his term ends in 2014.

Johanns said it was time to “close this chapter” in his life. He noted that he and his wife, Stephanie, have spent 32 years in public life and that they want to spend more time with family.

 

Mike Johanns timeline

June 18, 1950: Born, Osage, Iowa

1968: Graduated Osage Community High School

1971: Bachelor's degree, communications, St. Mary's College, Winona, Minn.

1972: Married first wife, Connie

1974: Law degree, Creighton University

1974-75: Law clerk, Judge Hale McCown, Nebraska Supreme Court

1975-76: Cronin and Hannon law firm, O'Neill

1976-91: Partner, Nelson Johanns Morris Holdeman and Titus

1983: Elected Lancaster County Commissioner

1985: Divorced Connie Johanns

1986: Married Stephanie Armitage

1989: Elected Lincoln City Council

1991: Elected mayor of Lincoln

1995: Re-elected mayor

1998: Elected governor

2002: Re-elected governor

2005: Appointed U.S. Agriculture Secretary

2008: Elected to U.S. Senate

Photo showcase: Mike Johanns

Johanns is a former Lincoln mayor and a two-term Nebraska governor who ran for U.S. Senate in 2007, after serving as former President George W. Bush's Agriculture Secretary.

Johanns and his wife met when the two were Lancaster County commissioners. The two are rarely seen apart at state political events and are considered one of the state's top political power couples.

“During these many years, we have cherished our time together. So as we think about the next stage of our lives, we want a quieter time with our focus on each other, our family and our faith,” said Johanns.

Johanns' retirement wasn't on many people's radar, in large part, because Johanns had announced last summer that he planned to seek re-election.

But he obviously changed his mind. And he did it in a timely fashion, giving prospective candidates plenty of time to either ponder a bid or mount a race.

One thing is for sure, Nebraskans can expect an exciting 2014 political season. There will be two high-profile races on the ballot. Both an open governor's seat and now one for the Senate.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's term ends in 2014 and the field is wide open.

“So much for ending my term as Nebraska GOP chairman with calm waters and smooth sailing,” said Fahleson, who steps down as chairman next month.

Fahleson said he expects many of the state's top Republican elected officials to consider whether to run for high office with today's announcement, including all three of the state's sitting Republican congressman.

If someone like U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry runs for Senate, there will be a congressional opening, noted Fahleson.
“It has the potential to be a rather exciting year politically,” said Fahleson.

Fahleson and others said they were surprised by today's announcement. But Fahleson noted that Johanns has not been aggressively raising money.

“Am I surprised the announcement came today, absolutely, but there were a number of signs that he would not seek re-election, including his fundraising,” said Fahleson.

Last year, Johanns was plagued by rumors that he planned to retire. Political bloggers and others speculated that Johanns was ill and had no intention of running. However, during the Republican National Convention in August, Johanns went out of his way to deny the rumors.

He also said he was not sick.

Rumors about Johanns' health have dogged him since a 2009 lung operation. At the time, doctors suspected cancer, but, during surgery, discovered that a spot on his lung was scar tissue left from an old infection.

Johanns insisted this summer he was in good health.

Contact the writer:
402-444-1309, robynn.tysver@owh.com

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Johanns' letters to supporters

Dear Fellow Nebraskans,

We would like to share with you a decision we have made about running for re-election to the United States Senate. We have decided not to seek re-election.

Words are inadequate to fully express our appreciation for the friendship and support you have given to us over the past three decades.

With everything in life, there is a time and a season. At the end of this term, we will have been in public service over 32 years. Between the two of us, we have been on the ballot for primary and general elections 16 times and we have served in eight offices. It is time to close this chapter of our lives.

During these many years, we have cherished our time together. So as we think about the next stage of our lives, we want a quieter time with our focus on each other, our family and our faith. We are also confident that there will be many more opportunities to serve our state and our nation.

We look forward to the remaining time in the Senate. It is an honor to have served in so many ways over so many years.

May God continue to bless Nebraska and our great nation.

Sincerely,

Mike & Stephanie Johanns