LINCOLN — U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns announced today he will not seek re-election in 2014, explaining that he wants a "quieter time" to focus on his family following a busy political career.
The Nebraska Republican announced in a statement that he was retiring from the Senate after one term. He said he and his wife, Stephanie, had decided that the time has come "to close this chapter of our lives."
"During these many years, we have cherished our time together," the couple said in an email statement. "So as we think about the next stage of our lives, we want a quieter time with our focus on each other, our family and our faith. We are also confident that there will be many more opportunities to serve our state and our nation."
Johanns, 62, previously had announced he was planning a re-election bid and had no health concerns to deter him.
In 2009, doctors had found a spot on his lung and removed that part of the lung. They said they found no cancer, however.
Johanns was raised on a dairy farm near Osage, Iowa. He earned his undergraduate degree from St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn., and his law degree from Creighton University in Omaha before settling down to practice law, first in O'Neill and later in Lincoln.
He served on the Lancaster County Board from 1983-87. By the following year, when he was elected to the Lincoln City Council, he had changed his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican.
He served on the council until 1991 when he was elected mayor. He served one full term and was in the third year of his second term when he was elected Nebraska's 38th governor, having survived a bruising GOP primary battle against U.S. Rep. Jon Christensen and State Auditor John Breslow.
Johanns served as a chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association in 2002. He was elected to a second term that same year but resigned in January 2005 to become U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the second administration of President George W. Bush.
After U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., announced he would not seek a third term, Johanns resigned his USDA post in October 2007 to return to Nebraska and seek the open seat. He defeated Democrat Scott Kleeb of Hastings to claim the office in November 2008.
In the Senate, Johanns has served on the committees on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Veterans' Affairs; and Indian Affairs.
He became the state's senior senator in January upon Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson's retirement.
He recently became the second Republican senator to announce he would support Hagel's nomination to serve as U.S. Secretary of Defense under Democratic President Barack Obama. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., has said she will oppose the nomination.
In a statement today reacting to Johanns' retirement announcement, Gov. Dave Heineman called Johanns "a remarkably outstanding public official."
"We are forever thankful for his commitment to serving our citizens, in particular, our farmers and ranchers, and our veterans," said Heineman, who served as Johanns' lieutenant governor and succeeded him as governor in 2005.