Governor Tom Osborne? Senator Tom Osborne?

Political Shuffle Begins As State Looks To 2006 (TheOmahaChannel)

A political scramble is under way in Nebraska after Gov. Mike Johanns’ appointment to be the nation’s next agriculture secretary.


Who will serve Nebraska next is the big question among the state’s political leaders. Political insiders assumed Johanns would run for Senate in 2006 against incumbent Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson.

With Johanns out, Rep. Lee Terry suggested Thursday that Rep. Tom Osborne, Attorney General Jon Bruning or Omaha businessman David Nabity might step up to run for Senate. But Osborne has spoken publicly about his interest in running for governor in 2006. Nabity already has his own “Republican for Governor” Web site, and the Republican Party will have a sitting governor in Lt. Gov. Dave Heineman, who will step up to the governorship when Johanns is confirmed by the Senate. Osborne said Thursday that Johanns’ appointment as agriculture secretary has not turned his focus away from a possible run for governor.


University of Nebraska professor Randall Adkins, PhD, said Osborne holds a lot of power. “He definitely holds a lot of cards,” Adkins said. “He’s definitely one of the leaders of the political party in the state, and the issue is, he could virtually have any office he wants. He’s just that popular. I mean, how do you run against a guy that’s that popular? It’s very difficult to do that.”

Interesting. For those who don’t follow such things, Osborne had another career before entering politics:

In his quarter-century as head coach, Tom Osborne never won fewer than nine games in a season and played in a Bowl game every year. His 255-49-3 record gave him the best winning percentage (83.6%) among active Division 1-A coaches before his retirement and the fifth-best of all time. During his last five seasons,the Huskers went an amazing 60-3 and won three national championships in 94,95,97.

Not a bad springboard for a gubernatorial or senatorial bid, apparently.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. As a Nebraska alum, I have a much better idea for him to fill a more important job…head football coach.

  2. Brian says:

    Nothing against Tom Osborne in general. He should be proud of his stellar career at the helm of the Huskers.

    That said, he bailed just before it became painfully obvious to everyone that Nebraska was in decline. The game has passed Osborne by.