The U.S. Senate has long been called the “world’s most exclusive club.”
If so, why are so many politicians from Nebraska, and elsewhere, running as fast as they can from it?
On Saturday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said “no” for a second time to a run for an open seat in the Senate. The conservative Republican was a virtual lock to win the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, who is retiring.
But Heineman repeated once again that he loves being governor, and lacks the “passion” to run for the federal office.
Johanns, a former governor who picked Heineman to be his lieutenant governor, is leaving to spend more time with family. That’s a nice way of saying the U.S. Senate is no longer fun or rewarding.
In 2012, another former Nebraska governor, Ben Nelson, retired from the U.S. Senate saying he too wanted to spend more time doing something else.
Heineman talked with Johanns and other governors-turned-senators to see what it would be like in Washington. Apparently Heineman heard enough to convince him life as a freshman senator from a small state isn’t how he wanted to spend his retirement years.
It takes a long time to get something done in grid-locked D.C. By contrast, as governor, Heineman can influence state policy and can make a difference in the growth of the state.
He hasn’t gained a big win in a couple of years, but by staying put, it breaths new life into his plan for a major reform of the state tax system. His proposed shift — off state income taxes and onto state sales taxes — would have become mired in claims that it was just “political” and a way to gain votes if he was running for the Senate.
Heineman is now poised to take a serious run at tax reform.