Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman won't seek an open Senate seat, he said this weekend, a decision that likely opens the door to a large number of Republicans interested in retiring Sen. Mike Johann's seat.
Heineman would have cleared the field had he chose to run. But the solidly red state has a number of other potential Republicans on the bench who will take a look at the race now that the governor is out. Here are some names to keep an eye on:
The state's Republican congressional delegation – Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, Adrian Smith, and Lee Terry – are all potential candidates (though Terry said he would try to convince the governor to change his mind and run).
Former state treasurer Shane Osborn told the Omaha World-Herald that he is "seriously considering" the race and will announce a decision soon.
The Associated Press names as possibilities the two failed GOP Senate candidates from 2012, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer Don Stenberg; as well as 2006 Senate candidate Pete Ricketts and Midland University President Ben Sasse (whose potential candidacy former Nebraska GOP chair Mark Fahleson has touted).
The state GOP chair, J.L. Spray, acknowledged in a statement that the governor's choice would likely mean a contested primary. "Competitive Primary Elections have strengthened our Party as shown by Governor Heineman's own competitive Primary in 2006, and the most recent U.S. Senate Primary Election for U.S. Senate in 2012 won by U.S. Senator Deb Fischer," said Spray.
This is the second cycle in a row that Heineman has considered running for a Senate seat only to ultimately pass on the race.