Former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns has decided to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel. The decision comes as a ray of hope in what has otherwise been a steady stream of bad news. Johanns was extremely popular as Governor before taking the job in the Bush administration as Secretary of Agriculture. He had been discussed as a candidate against Sen. Ben Nelson in 2006.
Two notable Republicans, former Rep. Hal Daub and state Attorney General John Bruning, are also in the race. At this point, both should clear the way for Johanns. Johanns is a conservative and established a record as Governor that the Club for Growth appreciated. He is less outspoken than AG Bruning but is no less conservative. That makes him a good fit for his state.
The winner of the Republican primary will likely face off against former Sen. Bob Kerrey. Kerrey retired from the Senate to serve as President of the New School in New York City. Many conservatives have said that his affiliation with the liberal University will cost him with Nebraska voters, but the voters have yet to give any indication that they care. This will be a marquee race in 2008 and will be a leading indicator of whether the Democrats have a tidal wave or simply a high tide next year.