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Heineman likely to succeed Johanns

There are, however, others considering a run.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated. 11:50 a.m.

Six years after he succeeded fellow Republican Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, Nebraska‚??s Mike Johanns announced on Monday that he would not seek a second term in 2014.

In becoming the second Republican senator after Georgia‚??s Saxby Chambliss to call it quits, Johanns surprised quite a few observers on both sides. The former governor of the Cornhusker State and secretary of agriculture under George W. Bush had been considered a cinch to win a second term. Johanns, interestingly, made his retirement announcement not long after he became one of two Republican senators to say he would vote to confirm Hagel as secretary of defense; the other is Mississippi‚??s veteran Sen. Thad Cochran, himself considered likely to retire.

Although there had been some questions about his health, the 62-year-old Johanns cited as his primary reason for leaving his distaste with what he considered the increasingly partisan and dysfunctional atmosphere in Congress. Last year, the Nebraskan was part of the ‚??Gang of Eight,‚?Ě a bipartisan group of senators seeking common ground on deficit reduction.

The name most immediately mentioned as a successor, however, was Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who is termed out of office this year. Having moved up from lieutenant governor to the top job when Johanns quit to join the Cabinet, Heineman is considered as natural a successor to the retiring senator.

But there are other Republicans reportedly considering the race. Reps. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln and Lee Terry of Omaha, both regarded as solid conservatives, would be strong contenders. But both have considerable seniority in a chamber that has a Republican majority. In addition, the two runners-up to Sen. Deb Fischer in the GOP Senate primary last year, former state Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg, are also mentioned for a Senate race next year.

Almost everyone is waiting to see what Gov. Heineman will do. There is little worry, however, that Johanns‚?? seat will remain in Republican hands.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as ‚??the man who knows everyone in Washington‚?Ě and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what‚??s going on in the nation‚??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ‚??Gizzi on Politics‚?Ě and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ‚??Gizzi‚??s America,‚?Ě video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John‚??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com