A term-limited state senator with a healthy campaign war chest on Monday became the first candidate to announce a run for state auditor.
The announcement by Pete Pirsch, an Omaha Republican, is not expected to be the last for the $85,000-a-year post being vacated by Foley.
Jim Rogers, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said his party would definitely field some candidates and has already talked with potential office-seekers.
“We have some tremendously talented state senators who are term-limited who would be a great addition to the ticket,” Rogers said.
Among the possible candidates mentioned Monday were Sens. Amanda McGill and Bill Avery, both of Lincoln, and Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek, all Democrats, and former State Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, a Republican.
Two other politicians said Monday that they won’t seek the job.
Former State Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln, an unsuccessful GOP candidate for state treasurer in 2010, said he’s not interested.
“I know it’s an important job. I’m just not excited to do that,” Fulton said.
Omaha Sen. Heath Mello, a Democrat, said he was flattered to be mentioned as a possible candidate but is focused on continuing his work in the Legislature on the state budget and state tax and prison issues.
Pirsch, 43, formally announced his candidacy for the office at a press conference Monday on the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha. The event was attended by Pirsch’s wife and children.
Pirsch, whose mother, Carol, was a longtime state senator and Douglas County commissioner, has served seven years in the Legislature.
The state auditor’s post opened up when Foley announced a run for the GOP nomination for governor. It’s the first time in 16 years that the auditor’s race won’t feature an incumbent.
Pirsch cited his experience in the Legislature and as an assistant prosecutor for the City of Omaha during his press conference.
“The next state auditor needs to be someone that focuses on protecting the taxpayers’ money from government waste and fraud, instead of politicizing issues for personal political gain,” Pirsch said.
The senator comes well-prepared financially to join the race. His most recent campaign finance report indicated he had nearly $117,000 on hand as of Dec. 31 in his Pete Pirsch for Legislature account. That money can be used for other state races, including auditor.
Pirsch had been mentioned as a possible candidate for attorney general, but incumbent Jon Bruning, also a Republican, decided to run for re-election in 2014.
After his Omaha announcement, Pirsch left on a 14-city tour of the state to announce his candidacy.