The list of Democrats and Republicans in Nebraska mulling over a bid for either U.S. Senate or governor grew Wednesday with the end of this year's legislative session.
Four state senators announced that they were considering possible runs for statewide office: Democrat Steve Lathrop of Omaha, Republican Bob Krist of Omaha, Republican Tom Carlson of Holdrege and Brad Ashford of Omaha, who is registered as an independent.
Numerous elected officials and others are considering runs for either U.S. Senate or governor, as both seats are wide open in Nebraska in the 2014 election cycle.
Of the four state lawmakers who announced on Wednesday they might run, Lathrop, 56, appears to be the closest to actually jumping into the race.
The Omaha attorney says he plans to launch a listening tour later this month as he considers whether to run for governor. He also posted a link to a contributions page on his Twitter feed Wednesday.
Lathrop has been considered a prospective statewide candidate for years, but this is the first time he has ever taken such a concrete step toward a possible run.
He said he would run on his legislative record, including his efforts to reform the Beatrice State Development Center in the wake of a scandal over how that facility was treating its clients.
“I have a record of bringing people together and working through things,” Lathrop said.
Carlson, 71, said he is considering a bid for governor but that he was in the early stages of the process.
Carlson said he plans to talk to various groups and individuals over the coming weeks to explore whether there would be support for his candidacy. “I'm at the first stage (of a possible run),” said Carlson, a retired insurance and financial adviser.
Krist, 56, said he is considering several options, including a run for U.S. Senate, governor, Congress or another run for the Nebraska Legislature. “I have not ruled out any of the four races,” Krist said.
Ashford, 63, said he is considering a run for U.S. Senate as a Democrat.
The former Republican, who is officially registered as an Independent, recently came in fourth-place in a five-way primary race for Omaha mayor.
But, he said, if he race for statewide office, he needed to run as either a Republican or Democrat.
“You can't get elected to the Senate without a party. I much prefer to run as an independent, but I don't think it's politically possible to do,” said Ashford.
So far, two people have jumped into the governors race: Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs and former member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and Republican State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont.
Other possible contenders include State Auditor Mike Foley, Scottsbluff attorney Mike Meister and former State Sen. Mike Flood.
Flood announced a run last year but dropped out after his wife, Mandi, was diagnosed with breast cancer. But he and others have said her prognosis has improved and he is again contemplating making a run.
In addition, two Republican businessmen may enter the fray: former Gallup executive Mike Van Buskirk of Hay Springs and Charles Herbster of Falls City.
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