LINCOLN — Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk expects to decide in September whether to pursue a run for governor.
But he sounded a lot like a candidate Tuesday during a noontime speech at the Downtown Lincoln Rotary Club.
The appearance was one of many he has made as he crisscrossed the state this summer.
Flood said he's traveled 7,500 miles, giving speeches, learning about local concerns, introducing himself and asking people whether they would consider him as their governor.
“People gave me a fair shot, and they continue to do that,” he said, adding: “I haven't made a decision yet.”
If he ran, Flood would be the second declared candidate seeking to replace Gov. Dave Heineman, who is barred by term limits from running again.
Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy already has filed as a candidate for the 2014 election and has Heineman's backing. Both Sheehy and Flood are Republicans.
No Democratic candidates have emerged yet.
Flood, 37, is finishing up the last of his eight years in the Nebraska Legislature. Term limits bar him from seeking re-election.
He has been speaker for six years. When elected, he was the second-youngest speaker in the state's history.
An attorney, he owns two radio stations in his hometown of Norfolk.
Before deciding about a gubernatorial bid, Flood said he wants to learn about the issues facing Nebraska and figure out if he has something to offer the state.
He wants to be sure “this is how I can make a difference. (That) I have a plan and I want to move forward and I want to make this work for Nebraska,” he said.
As a policymaker, Flood said he enjoys being able to work through complex issues and bringing divergent parties to a middle ground. If he runs, he said, his two boys are young enough that they would have to live with whatever decisions he would make as governor.
“I want the best for my kids,” Flood said. “I want the best for the state.”
Flood touched on some policy issues during a review of the major concerns facing the new crop of legislators.
They are infrastructure needs, funding for K-12 schools and the drought, he said.
On the first issue, Flood said, he expects efforts to repeal a law that will start diverting some state sales tax revenue for roads in January. He opposes the repeal, because the state needs to complete construction of planned four-lane expressways.
Infrastructure concerns also include the need to expand natural gas availability to foster economic development, he said.
Next, Flood said, Nebraska needs to find a way to make the state school aid formula sustainable in the long term. Current trends point to a future in which few rural schools will qualify for aid, while costs to the state continue climbing.
Meanwhile, the full effects of this summer's drought will not be known until November or later. Flood said his travels have brought home how much agriculture is suffering.
“I think as a state we have to brace for tough times,” he said, while also joking that “the best answer for any drought is a Flood.”
Flood, who billed himself to the Rotarians as a “pretty reliable conservative vote,” said his wife, Mandi, is supportive if he decides to run.
In one indication of his leanings, he has created a new campaign committee, Mike Flood for Nebraska. The committee was set up last month and is separate from the one created for his legislative elections.
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