Choice of Heidemann for lieutenant governor called 'great pick' - Omaha.com
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, paul.hammel@owh.com

Contact the writer: Paul Hammel

paul.hammel@owh.com    |   402-473-9584    |  

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

Keystone XL pipeline backers blast ‘political expediency’ as foes hail ruling to delay decision
Interstate construction to cause lane shifts, closings in Omaha area
Man, 21, shot in ankle while walking near 30th, W Streets
Teenager arrested after woman's purse is snatched outside Omaha store
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs, police say
Dems criticize governor hopeful Beau McCoy's ad in which he strikes a Barack Obama doll
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
Friday's attendance dips at Millard West after bathroom threat
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
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.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com'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 »