HAYWORTH: Heineman may endorse in GOP governor primary

2014-04-21T12:10:00Z 2014-05-13T14:40:21Z HAYWORTH: Heineman may endorse in GOP governor primaryBret Hayworth Sioux City Journal
April 21, 2014 12:10 pm  • 

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman on Monday said he is watching the field of Republican candidates who want his job in 2015, and may publicly share his preference before the May 13 primary election.

Speaking in South Sioux City, Heineman said he certainly cares that a solid Republican succeeds him, so he may give an endorsement.

"I may, (if so) it will be in late April or early May," he said.

"I think it is a very competitive primary."

The list of Republican candidates includes state Auditor Mike Foley, state Sens. Beau McCoy, of Omaha, and Tom Carlson, of Holdrege, Omaha businessman Bryan Slone,  Attorney General Jon Bruning and Pete Ricketts, the former chief operating officer of Ameritrade.

Heineman said he came out of competitive 2006 primary (including iconic Cornhusker football coach Tom Osborne), so having a broad governor field in 2014 won't hurt Republicans in November.

Heineman can't run for governor again because of the two-term limit regulation in Nebraska.

Heineman is spending the next few days traveling the state to share impressions of the 2014 legislative accomplishments, as he does every year. This year, he began the swing in Northeast Nebraska, with stops in Norfolk and South Sioux City, where he spoke to 30 people at City Hall.

He praised the tax relief package that state legislators passed during the session that ended last week. Heineman pointed to $412 million in tax relief over the next five years. That total comes from several pieces combined, including exempted portions of Social Security and veteran retirement benefits from state income tax and eliminating sales tax on the sale of replacement parts for agricultural equipment.

Heineman is pleased the Legislature wouldn't agree to expand the federal Medicaid low-income health program in Nebraska. Sen. Kathy Campbell, of Lincoln, led the expansion wing in the Legislature. He also was glad a proposal to sell bonds to improve the state's roads didn't advance.

"I believe it is important to maintain our pay-as-you-go method," Heineman said.

The South Sioux City appearance by Heineman was notable, since it will be his last post-session recap. But he said he'll have eight more months as governor, so people shouldn't be pushing him out the door.

"I haven't died yet," the governor joked.

Heineman said he gets asked in nearly every public appearance what he will do after exiting the governor's position. He said he has no firm plans, but will start to increasingly think about ways to continue helping Nebraska.

Heineman didn't bemoan term limits pushing him toward an exit, saying he supports that requirement.

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