Sen. Chuck Hagel made the announcement that was preported over the weekend official today, saying that he will not seek reelection next year. While the decision does create a competitive race where there wasn’t one before, some good news came on the day of the announcement. Gov. Dave Heineman said that he “fully expect(s)” former Gov. Mike Johanns to run for the seat.
Johanns was a popular Governor who was being heavily recruited by many to run for the Senate against Sen. Ben Nelson in 2004 before President Bush nominated him for Secretary of Agriculture. Four years ago he’d have had a clear field. Now, he will likely face off against Attorney General John Bruning, who had declared his candidacy long before Hagel’s announcement. The primary will hinge on whether Republican voters prefer Bruning’s conservatism or Johanns’ stregth as a candidate.