Choice of Heidemann for lieutenant governor called 'great pick' -
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 12:42 pm
Choice of Heidemann for lieutenant governor called 'great pick'

LINCOLN — Newly named Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann was praised Wednesday as someone who might help the governor mend fences with state lawmakers.

Heidemann, a 54-year-old farmer and member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, was Gov. Dave Heineman's surprise pick to replace Rick Sheehy, who resigned 12 days ago.

The governor said he asked Heidemann, a fellow Republican, to take the job because he was “looking for the best Nebraskan possible.”

State Line blog: New lieutenant governor can't hurt Heineman agenda

“This is a man I respect. I know him very, very well,” Heineman said. “People know him, especially in this building.”

About Lt. Gov. Heidemann

Party: Republican

Home: Elk Creek

Faith: Lutheran

Occupation: Farmer

Office held: State senator, 2004 to 2012

Education: Elk Creek High School

The governor called Heidemann a “common-sense fiscal conservative” who would “absolutely” help him push his agenda in the Nebraska Legislature.

The nonpartisan body has departed from the governor on some controversial issues in recent years. Some lawmakers remain upset that Heineman publicly opposed a pay raise for state senators last year and singled out for criticism the Legislature's former leader, Speaker of the Legislature Sen. Mike Flood, for supporting government-paid, prenatal care for children of illegal immigrants.

Heidemann represented southeast Nebraska's District 1 for eight years in the Legislature until being barred by term limits from seeking re-election last year. Six of those years were spent heading the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, where he earned a reputation as a steady and patient leader during tough financial times.

Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nord-quist said his former colleague could become a great liaison between the Legislature and the governor, just as Vice President Joe Biden, a former U.S. senator, has aided President Obama in dealing with Congress.

Heidemann, Nordquist said, knows “the inside game” of the Legislature and still has relationships there.

“This is a great pick for the State of Nebraska,” said Nord-quist, a Democrat who heads the Legislature's Retirement Systems Committee and who served under Heidemann on the Appropriations Committee.

Two other key lawmakers, Kearney Sen. Galen Hadley and Fullerton Sen. Annette Dubas, joined Nordquist in expressing pleasant surprise that Heidemann was picked for the $75,000-a-year post.

Video: Heineman introduces Heidemann as new lieutenant governor

A trio of other state senators had been mentioned as possible candidates, but not Heidemann, perhaps because he had been elected in November to an unpaid post on the Board of Regents.

“He understands the Legislature, he understands the state and he understands fiscal issues,” Hadley said. “Great choice.”

Sheehy abruptly resigned on Feb. 2 after The World-Herald presented the results of a monthlong investigation revealing more than 2,300 calls he made on a state-issued cellphone to four women.

The governor said the “extraordinary situation” moved him to ask Heidemann, despite his recent election to the NU Board of Regents.

“I wanted the best Nebraskan possible standing at my side,” Heineman said.

Heidemann was sworn in Wednesday by Secretary of State John Gale.

The governor will appoint a regent to fill Heidemann's seat on the Board of Regents. Heidemann's letter of resignation was submitted just minutes before the press conference.

As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Heidemann led the drafting of the state's budget, which included budget cuts needed to navigate Nebraska through the Great Recession. He also worked closely with the governor, who said he always felt comfortable calling Heidemann during the evening.

The new lieutenant governor said that it was a tough decision to leave the Board of Regents. But he said he was honored to be asked to serve and felt he could do more to help the state as the governor's No. 2 man.

“The governor and I might not always travel down the same path, but our destination is always the same,” Heidemann said. “We want to make Nebraska a good place to live and do business, and better for future generations.”

He joked that because his name is so similar to “Heineman,” he's often been mistakenly called “governor.” That is closer to the truth now, Gov. Heineman responded.

When Heidemann was asked if he could advocate for the governor's tax plans, which were unanimously opposed by the state's farm groups, he deferred, saying he had to “get up to speed” on the proposals.

“Give me a little bit of time,” he said.

The job of lieutenant governor includes presiding over the Legislature and heading the state's Homeland Security efforts, as well as making appearances and speeches across the state.

Heineman said he wanted to pick someone who would not seek election as governor in 2014, and Heidemann said he had agreed to that stipulation. Heineman cannot seek re-election as governor because of term limits.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9584,

Contact the writer: Paul Hammel    |   402-473-9584    |  

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues and helps coordinate the same.

OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »