Johanns retiring in 2014

posted at 8:01 am on February 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Senator Mike Johanns will hit the exits after a single term in the upper chamber, his office announced yesterday.  The Nebraska Republican will bow out of a re-election bid despite having done well by all accounts in a first term.  Johanns reportedly has grown too frustrated with gridlock to fight for another six years:

Despite only serving one term, Johanns, 62, had begun to accrue seniority among an increasingly junior Senate Republican Conference, holding seats on prominent committees, including Banking and Agriculture. But after pushing for a major deficit-cutting deal in the last several years, the Republican has grown increasingly frustrated at Congress’s perpetual stalemate and its inability to resolve major national problems. Johanns informed his staff and Republican Gov. David Heineman of his decision Monday morning, sources said.

The early retirement decision caught Republican leaders by surprise — given that he had signaled for months he had planned to run again. But the early announcement — the fifth senator to do so this cycle — gives both sides a chance to reassess the landscape ahead of 2014.

The landscape, in this case, is very favorable to Republicans in a state that went for Mitt Romney by almost 22 points:

The retirement of Johanns — a former GOP governor of Nebraska and one-time secretary of agriculture — gives Democrats a shot at a seat they ordinarily would have dismissed, but Republicans remain favored to hold the seat in a state that is reliably Republican.

Don’t forget that Deb Fischer won her first Senate election in November with Obama at the top of the ticket, running against former Senator and war hero Bob Kerrey.  She beat Kerrey, who was seen as the Democrats’ best shot of holding Ben Nelson’s old seat, by sixteen points, as Kerrey outperformed Obama in the election.  After two more years of Obama and his turn to the left, Nebraskans probably won’t be in any better mood to elect Democrats to the Senate in 2014.

NPR’s Ken Rudin wonders whether the GOP fight against another Nebraska Republican might not have soured Johanns on a nearly sure-thing re-election bid:

No one has mentioned this — certainly Johanns has not — but I wonder if his steadfast support for Chuck Hagel, his fellow Nebraska Republican, to be the next secretary of defense was a factor in his decision. The GOP has, for the moment anyway, blocked Hagel’s nomination from reaching the Senate floor with a filibuster-like maneuver (known as the “filibuster”). Johanns was one of just two Republicans in the Senate who said he would vote for confirmation (the other being Thad Cochran of Mississippi). Was Johanns frustrated with his party, and did that play a role in him deciding he had had enough?

If so, it seems like an overreaction, since Hagel will almost certainly get confirmed next week, even if he shouldn’t.  I’d tend to believe it has more to do with the dysfunctional budget process that Johanns has had to endure for almost the entirety of his term in office, which is a lot more significant than the fight over Hagel and the rejection by his colleagues of the Defense appointee.  We’ll find out in the memoirs.

Rudin points out that the retirements are now at 5, with Democrats leading 3-2 — Lautenberg, Rockefeller, and Harkin, with Johanns and Chambliss for the GOP.  Two more potential retirements still await, one from each party: Cochran and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, plus however many more surprises might turn up.  Democrats will have more seats to defend in 2014 and (at the moment) one more open seat, but that was true in 2012, and the Republicans couldn’t take advantage with Obama at the top of the ticket.  Without Obama and after the aforementioned left turn in his second term, Democrats might have trouble holding the Senate — if Republicans can avoid stepping all over themselves.


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It’s good to see someone self-term-limit themselves.

Bitter Clinger on February 19, 2013 at 8:07 AM

My English isn’t so good today. That comment was a redundant.

Bitter Clinger on February 19, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Who?

If he voted for Chuck Hagel then he’s nothing but a filthy RINO that deserves to be run out of office before he can resign. I suspect he knows that his position is indefensible after two years of Hagel gutting the military, trying to make America nuclear weapon free, the unrest of the next round of social engineering of the troops, sequestration, and all the rest of it that Hagel has specifically been hired by the rat-eared wonder to do to the military.

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2013 at 8:14 AM

The good ones figure it out and split while we get stuck with the crooks and leeches you can’t dynamite out.

docflash on February 19, 2013 at 8:15 AM

…if Republicans can avoid stepping all over themselves.

As if.

KS Rex on February 19, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Without Obama and after the aforementioned left turn in his second term, Democrats might have trouble holding the Senate — if Republicans can avoid stepping all over themselves.

Not if Karl Rove f’s everything up. Instead of Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Partiers alike all uniting in opposition to Obama and the Dems(like in 2010), the GOP establishment is doing it’s damnedest to make sure only party loyalists show up at the polls next November. 2014 should be a slam dunk for the Republicans. Instead, all the talk is about whether or not the Dems actually have a shot at retaking the House which should be a pipe dream.

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Without Obama and after the aforementioned left turn in his second term, Democrats might have trouble holding the Senate — if Republicans can avoid stepping all over themselves.

I’m sure the GOP will nominate a few more Christine O’Donnells, Sharon Angles, and Todd Akins in otherwise winnable races – and then Harry Reid will keep the Senate.

That’ll show Karl Rove!!!

DRayRaven on February 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

OT: chuck todd…there is a gop mythology that the lsm is out to get them

Wow

cmsinaz on February 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

I’m sure the GOP will nominate a few more Christine O’Donnells, Sharon Angles, and Todd Akins in otherwise winnable races – and then Harry Reid will keep the Senate.

That’ll show Karl Rove!!!

DRayRaven on February 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Yes!! More McCains, Grahams, Collins, Murkowskis are just what we need!!

/////

Bitter Clinger on February 19, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Picking up a net of 6 seats to grab the majority is a tall hurdle.

The silent story of the 2012 senate races was that Obama DID have coattails — in ND, Ohio, Floorida, Virginia, among other states — and the GOP completely ruined themselves in both Indiana and Missouri — had these 2 races gone the other way, the Senate would now be 53-47. Big difference.

Absolutely appalling candidates in Indiana and Missouri. All Akin had to do to win was sit on his front porch and keep his mouth shut for 3 months. He couldn’t even manage that.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 8:33 AM

I’m sure the GOP will nominate a few more Christine O’Donnells, Sharon Angles, and Todd Akins in otherwise winnable races – and then Harry Reid will keep the Senate.

That’ll show Karl Rove!!!

DRayRaven on February 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

How about this, Sport? YOUR faction of the GOP puts up some candidates that can win a primary?

Castle might be in the Senate IF he could have won the PRIMARY.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 8:34 AM

OT: chuck todd…there is a gop mythology that the lsm is out to get them

Wow

cmsinaz on February 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Of all the drive-bys to try to deny media bias, someone from MSDNC?!

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Maybe he’s seen enough to recognize the inevitability of a total economic meltdown in the U.S. and wants to avoid any association with it and start prepping?

ROCnPhilly on February 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Castle might be in the Senate IF he could have won the PRIMARY.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 8:34 AM

So let me get this straight. The GOP can only nominate folks that are acceptable to Democrats? Are you really that stupid? Join the Dem party if you really think that.

Yes, Castle might have been in the Senate if he could have won the primary. Another filthy RINO with a go-along to get-along mentality who would essentially ignore the right wing and focus on keeping his job. We need individuals of prinicple and if you can’t see that then we don’t need people like you talking about “your faction” as if the Karl Rove establishment RINO types are entitled to run the GOP.

Seriously, just how stupid are you?

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Picking up a net of 6 seats to grab the majority is a tall hurdle.

The silent story of the 2012 senate races was that Obama DID have coattails — in ND, Ohio, Floorida, Virginia, among other states — and the GOP completely ruined themselves in both Indiana and Missouri — had these 2 races gone the other way, the Senate would now be 53-47. Big difference.

Absolutely appalling candidates in Indiana and Missouri. All Akin had to do to win was sit on his front porch and keep his mouth shut for 3 months. He couldn’t even manage that.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 8:33 AM

6 seats is a tall order, but it can be done. The GOP did it in 2010. In fact, if you count Scott Brown’s special election win, they netted 7 Senate seats. But like I said earlier, the key to that is to have a united, motivated base.

I’m not worried right now about the fractured Republican Party. A lot of people have forgotten that it was just like this in early 2009. But what turned things around back then was every single House Republican voting against Porkulus and the uprising of the Tea Party on April 15. And right now the establishment isn’t exactly setting the stage for a revival of 2010. Instead of uniting against the Obama agenda, too many Republicans are rolling over for the guy. And instead of embracing the Tea Party and recruiting them for help, Karl Rove and other party insiders are trying to shut them out in the upcoming primaries.

They still have time to correct course. Allowing the sequester to go through is a good start. But they can’t afford too many more screw ups.

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Of all the drive-bys to try to deny media bias, someone from MSDNC?!

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:34 AM

I particularly love that outlet’s defense of their objectivity. They have Joe Scarborough in their programing. As if one RINO makes up for the likes of Rachael Madcow and Special Ed Schultz.

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM

So let me get this straight. The GOP can only nominate folks that are acceptable to Democrats? Are you really that stupid? Join the Dem party if you really think that. //
Happy Nomad on February 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Say Blood, I’M ON YOUR SIDE….read for comprehension…I was taking DrayRaven to task. You know making the point that his/her preferred candidate couldn’t even win a primary?

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Chuck can’t tell the truth doughboy….. the lsm loves to play gotcha

Indeed HN…

cmsinaz on February 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I particularly love that outlet’s defense of their objectivity. They have Joe Scarborough in their programing. As if one RINO makes up for the likes of Rachael Madcow and Special Ed Schultz.

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Does MSDNC even have a single red-blooded conservative in their lineup? Even as a pundit? I don’t count S.E. Cupp who’s an atheist and made news last week for trashing Rush. And no, Morning Slow, Benedict Schmidt, Michael Steele, and Miss Piggy(aka Meghan McCain) don’t qualify either.

Say what you will about FoxNews, but they’ve got a hardcore leftie like Shep Smith with his own show several hours a day, Bob Beckel on The Five(and other shows), Juan Williams on several shows and occasionally guest-hosting The O’Reilly Factor, and Geraldo Rivera with his own show.

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

No, it does not, and she’s hanging around with Crystal Ball, who was one of the organizers of the Hush Rush attempt;

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/won-rushed-article-1.1267200?localLinksEnabled=false

narciso on February 19, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Could all change in 10 days, depending on how Republicans handle the sequester and the move to force Harry Reid to produce a budget (of course, it’s highly possible key Republicans will soil themselves over fear they’re be blamed for an idea thought up by the White House and will completely cave on the sequester deal 10 days from now…)

jon1979 on February 19, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Could all change in 10 days, depending on how Republicans handle the sequester and the move to force Harry Reid to produce a budget (of course, it’s highly possible key Republicans will soil themselves over fear they’re be blamed for an idea thought up by the White House and will completely cave on the sequester deal 10 days from now…)

jon1979 on February 19, 2013 at 9:01 AM

I think we’re ok on the sequester. Enough Republicans have gone on record stating that they’re ready for it to go through. Even most Dems seem to be resigned to it based on their public remarks.

Now that’s not to say they’ll stick to their guns over the long run and allow those cuts to stand. And even if they do, the real fight will be over the debt ceiling and budget between now and May. If they manage to get real concessions out of Obama and the Dems in those negotiations, then I’ll feel a lot more confident about 2014 and beyond.

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Yes!! More McCains, Grahams, Collins, Murkowskis are just what we need!!

/////

Bitter Clinger on February 19, 2013 at 8:31 AM

John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski are all members of the Senate. They actually got elected and can change national policy.

Oh, but Christine O’Donnell probably put out five or six press releases attacking Karl Rove (and asking for cash from the idiots). That’s vitally important to our nation.

KingGold on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski are all members of the Senate. They actually got elected and can change national policy.

Oh, but Christine O’Donnell probably put out five or six press releases attacking Karl Rove (and asking for cash from the idiots). That’s vitally important to our nation.

KingGold on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Yeah, they can change national policy…. and usually do it to the betterment of the Left’s position. Christine O’Donnell had her issues but I’m betting that if she had been elected, we’d get better votes out of her than any of the RINOs I mentioned.

Bitter Clinger on February 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM

If so, it seems like an overreaction, since Hagel will almost certainly get confirmed next week, even if he shouldn’t.

Why exactly shouldn’t he be confirmed?

ninjapirate on February 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Oh, but Christine O’Donnell probably put out five or six press releases attacking Karl Rove (and asking for cash from the idiots). That’s vitally important to our nation.

KingGold on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

And AGAIN, all the estimable Mike Castle had to do was beat this “loon.” Did, he, NO. If you can’t beat Christine O’Donnell, why ought you be thought of as “electable?”

You don’t want “crazies” running in the General, YOU nominate moderates/conservatives that can beat the crazies….You didn’t, so please be quiet.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

That is the thing, Rove rolled ‘snakeeyes’ this cycle, pulling 5 million out of Akin, made him look like the greater fool, for putting the money in the first place,

narciso on February 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Johanns was one of just two Retardspublicans in the Senate who said he would vote for confirmation (the other being Thad Cochran of Mississippi).

…bye!

KOOLAID2 on February 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Why exactly shouldn’t he be confirmed?

ninjapirate on February 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Because he’s an Anti-Semitic, IDIOT?

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM

John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski are all members of the Senate. They actually got elected and can change national policy.

KingGold on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

That’s not exactly a good thing. McCain and Graham are trying to get an amnesty bill through Congress(again). McCain’s also doing next to nothing to block Hagel’s confirmation. Collins helped deliver us Obamacare and Porkulus. And Leena Micklewhite is all about pork barrel spending for her home state.

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Don’t forget that Deb Fischer won her first Senate election in November with Obama at the top of the ticket, running against former Senator and war hero Bob Kerrey.

Just a quick reminder: Nebraska, being solidly Republican, is a state where Democrats do better in mid term elections. The only real formula for Democrats to win statewide here anymore is a highly motivated Democratic base in the east and disengaged Republicans everywhere else. If the Republicans in this state are even kind of motivated (as they always are in presidential elections), it’s a hugely uphill battle for Democrats.

2014 is obviously a mid term election, but I suspect Gov. Heineman will run and immediately make the race a foregone conclusion.

LukeinNE on February 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

To supplement what I wrote above: NE is a bit unusual in that its electorate is quite partisan. If my memory serves, the state is roughly 50% registered Republican and 35% registered Democrat, leaving independents as a small and not all that relevant part of the electorate here.

LukeinNE on February 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Akin I will grant you – but not Mourdock. Yes he screwed up. And of course on abortion, the media jumped all over it – and actually deliberately mischaracterized what he said. But he was a solid candidate and was winning until the faux controversy erupted.

What this tells national GOP candidates on abortion. SAy:

“Abortion is a state’s issue and so my opinion on the matter is of little consequence. I do believe legally that the Roe v Wade ruling was an absolute abomination of a ruling, grounded in nothing but a man in a black robe’s desire to make abortion legal everywhere – differences in the states be damned.”

If all Mourdock had said inanswer to the question was that – he would have won Indiana.

Zomcon JEM on February 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

And AGAIN, all the estimable Mike Castle had to do was beat this “loon.” Did, he, NO. If you can’t beat Christine O’Donnell, why ought you be thought of as “electable?”

You don’t want “crazies” running in the General, YOU nominate moderates/conservatives that can beat the crazies….You didn’t, so please be quiet.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

The Delaware senate issue cuts both ways. Yes, Castle is to be faulted for straying too far from his base over many years, relying instead on independent and Dem crossover votes to win the general by healthy margins. And, notwithstanding his errors in judgment on environmental issues, he was a consistent fiscal hawk and strong on national defense, as well. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Castle’s vote for Pelosi’s cap and trade in 2009.

That said, Castle was hurt by another factor less of his own making. In the 2008 Democratic primary for governor, many registered Republicans changed their registration to Democratic to vote for Jack Markell over John Carney; Markell went on to win the primary by a narrow margin and the general election by a large margin. Many of these GOP voters failed to re-register in 2010 and couldn’t “get back” to vote for Castle in the primary when in mattered.

Say what you want about Castle’s reliability, but I’d rather have him in the GOP caucus voting with McConnell 70 percent of the time instead of Chris Coons voting with McConnell zero percent of the time.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a limit to which voters in Blue States will be pushed. We can have relative purity in the GOP caucus as a minority, or we can have a majority with a larger-tent philosophy.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 10:18 AM

If all Mourdock had said in answer to the question was that – he would have won Indiana.

Zomcon JEM on February 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

I concur. My point is that he didn’t.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Say what you want about Castle’s reliability, but I’d rather have him in the GOP caucus voting with McConnell 70 percent of the time instead of Chris Coons voting with McConnell zero percent of the time.

Yes, but he couldn’t get the nomination…I think the Patriots would have beaten San Francisco this year, but sadly, they failed to beat the Ravens, so we’ll never know.

Do I blame the Ravens-well, yes I do-or do I blame Tom Brady and Belichick? And the answer is, Belichick and Brady….not Flacco and a Harbough.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Doughboy on February 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

The GOP had better stay firm on the sequester. If the GOP caves, they WILL lose the House in 2014.

The sequester is the ONLY means to get guaranteed cuts of any measure from this spendthrift Administration. If the GOP “trades in” the cuts, they will get played, just as they have time and time again. The RATS and their MSM handmaidens have perfected illusory cuts that never materialized into an art form.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Couldn’t get the nomination? Castle had won the GOP nomination about two dozen times over the course of his career.

Castle should not have been primaried in 2010 — and admittedly his people did not sufficiently prepare for a primary challenge. He was warned by the NRCC and didn’t take the threat seriously.

That said, O’Donnell has weakened the GOP brand in Delaware more than Castle ever did.

I’ve met O’Donnell. She is a flake, she is not a serious person.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM

NRSC. My bad.

matthew8787 on February 19, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Couldn’t get the nomination? Castle had won the GOP nomination about two dozen times over the course of his career.

And Tom Brady’s won a lot of Super Bowls and AFC Championships, just not last year….

Castle should not have been primaried in 2010 — and admittedly his people did not sufficiently prepare for a primary challenge. He was warned by the NRCC and didn’t take the threat seriously.

Says Who? Who says he “shouldn’t” be primaried? And the fact he failed to take the warning and then the eventual primary seriously speaks volumes about HIM….

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Let’s see. We lose a RINO, whiner, one-term senator! That’s a winner! Would like to see this repeated across the country!

tomshup on February 19, 2013 at 10:46 AM

NPR’s Ken Rudin wonders whether the GOP fight against another Nebraska Republican might not have soured Johanns on a nearly sure-thing re-election bid

Nice try at being an agent provcateur.

olesparkie on February 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Without Obama and after the aforementioned left turn in his second term, Democrats might have trouble holding the Senate — if Republicans can avoid stepping all over themselves.

Then again, if Republicans continue to have open primaries, democrats will continue to use their own version of “operation chaos” to gum up the works. NOW is the time to fix that.

olesparkie on February 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Let’s see. We lose a RINO, whiner, one-term senator! That’s a winner! Would like to see this repeated across the country!

tomshup on February 19, 2013 at 10:46 AM

:eyeroll:

This RINO stuff has gotten out of hand. Johanns was by all accounts a solidly conservative Senator. A from the ACU, A from NRL, etc. Breaking with conservatives to help an old friend does not make him a RINO.

LukeinNE on February 19, 2013 at 11:52 AM

No it makes him a Knucklehead. But you are right he’s not a RINO. He’s just putting a personal connection over the good of the country.

JFKY on February 19, 2013 at 11:58 AM