Nelson: Governor has “zero influence” on decision to run

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December 7th, 2011

Omaha, NE – The political rhetoric lobbied back and forth between Governor Dave Heineman and Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson continued this week.

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Governor Heineman has been critical of Senator Nelson for months – grumbling about the burden of the federal healthcare law on Nebraska, and reminding the state of Nelson’s decisive vote in favor of President Obama’s plan. At a press conference Tuesday Heineman fired a few direct shots.

Senator Nelson called Governor Heineman's comments this week "partisan showboating." (Photo courtesy U.S. Senate)

“I think it would be appropriate for Senator Nelson, in his final year in office, to admit he made a mistake and introduce a bill to repeal Obamacare,” Heineman said. “And it’d be a great Christmas present for Nebraska if he could go ahead and get that done before Christmas.”

Heineman’s criticisms have hinted at plans for a Senate bid, with hopes to unseat Nelson, a Democrat. He’s denied that suggestion, but this week, he received some calls he indicated have made him think about it.
“When a Senate Minority Leader… a leading U.S. Senator or member of the House of Representatives want to call me, I’m going to take that phone call, as I’ve done,” he said. “They initiated the phone calls, and I listened to them.”

Heineman called their arguments “persuasive,” but said he told them it would “take a lot” to change his mind.

Governor Heineman said any of the Republicans currently in the Senate 2012 race could beat Nelson. (Photo courtesy State of Nebraska)

Senator Nelson fired right back at Heineman during his conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “I’m surprised the Governor would even cow tow to the wishes of Mitch McConnell.”

Nelson said if the Governor is considering a bid, which would end his term early, he’s thinking of what’s best for the Republican Party, not Nebraskans. “And that really is the problem with Washington,” Nelson said. “There are far too many people already here who want to do what is best for their political party, and far too few who think in terms of what’s best for Nebraska.”

But, with that said, Nelson said he doesn’t think Heineman is planning to run.

“No, I don’t think he’s going to run,” he said. “And I don’t think he has any plan, or any interest in running. And whatever his purpose is, it’s not working. If it’s to try to influence me, it has absolutely zero influence with me.”

Senator Nelson said he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll run again next year. For his part, Heineman said even if he doesn’t run, any of the Republicans currently in the race could beat Nelson. He’s in “serious trouble,” he said, and “he knows it.”

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