Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood plans to pitch himself to voters as an experienced, budget-minded state lawmaker when he formally declares his candidacy for Nebraska governor Monday night.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The newest Republican hopeful for the 2014 gubernatorial race told The Associated Press that he will focus on taxes, spending, job creation and infrastructure in his quest for the state's highest office. The 37-year-old lawyer and radio station owner will kick off his campaign with his family during an event in Norfolk, his hometown.
In an interview earlier Monday, Flood said his eight years a lawmaker - including six as speaker - have given him a "front-row seat" to the inner workings of state government.
"I've had the opportunity to guide the state through very difficult financial times," Flood said. "In 2010, I led an effort to cut $500 million from the state budget to meet our budget obligations. I know how to cut spending. I've been there as we lowered taxes. I've made room for tax cuts. I've helped facilitate those, and I feel my experience in the Legislature will serve me well."
Flood is emphasizing his record as both a fiscal and social conservative, according to his prepared remarks for the event in Norfolk. He points to his support for the death penalty, his work to pass concealed-carry legislation, and the Legislature's efforts to reroute the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline around Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
He also plans to cite a major bill he sponsored in 2010 that became law and banned abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy based on assertions that fetuses feel pain at that stage of development. It was the first law of its kind in the country.
Nebraska doctors will soon be required to report an aborted fetus' gestational age to the state as part of a first-of-its-kind law that will ban abortions starting at 20 weeks based on assertions that fetuses feel pain at that stage of development.
Flood is looking to fill the job held by Gov. Dave Heineman, who will leave office in two years because of term limits. Flood has spent nearly six months traveling the state as he eyed a run for governor, logging more than 26,000 miles and visiting 71 Nebraska communities. He has already created a campaign committee and website.
Flood is the second GOP candidate to confirm his candidacy.
Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy confirmed in July 2011 that he was also interested in the job, and has traveled the state extensively while fundraising. Sheehy has the endorsement of Heineman, a popular Republican who was twice elected with more than 70 percent support.
In April, Heineman angrily singled out Flood for his support of a measure that extended government-funded prenatal care benefits to illegal immigrants and other low-income women. Heineman argued that the bill would make Nebraska a haven for illegal immigrants if passed, while Flood said he chose to "err on the side of life" by protecting the health of unborn children.
Another likely prospect to run for governor is state Sen. Charlie Janssen, a Fremont Republican who focused on immigration during his first term in office. Janssen, who was re-elected last week, has introduced controversial legislation that would require voters to show identification at the polls and a proposal modeled after an Arizona law that requires police officers to question the immigration status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally.
No Democratic candidates have confirmed whether they are running, but some have signaled that they are interested. They include state Sen. Steve Lathrop, an Omaha attorney; Lincoln mayor and former state lawmaker Chris Beutler; and former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)