Pondering Senate Bid, Johanns Heads Home

Posted September 13, 2007 at 12:49pm

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, who Gov. Dave Heineman (R) predicts will enter the 2008 Senate race within days and would be an immediate frontrunner for the GOP nomination, is scheduled to be in Nebraska beginning today through the weekend.

On tap are previously scheduled official USDA events with Heineman, as well as a fundraiser Johanns is headlining for the Nebraska Republican Party during which the party’s office building will be dedicated to Johanns.

The state GOP’s building was paid for with funds donated from Johanns’ campaign account after President Bush tapped him to serve at Agriculture in 2005.

Hosts of Saturday’s fundraiser include state Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) and former Rep. Hal Daub (R), both of whom are scheduled to attend the event and both of whom would face Johanns in the GOP Senate primary if he enters the race.

Bruning has been running since the spring, and Daub is getting close to jumping in as well now that Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) has announced he will retire next year. Some well-placed Republicans predict Johanns could announce his candidacy as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Democrats are awaiting a decision from former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) about whether he will enter the 2008 race. Nebraska is solid Republican territory, but Kerrey has remained popular since retiring in 2000. Democrats believe Kerrey would position them to win Hagel’s seat.

— David M. Drucker