Strange politics in Nebraska.

Sometimes, the biggest announcements come from people who are not going to be candidates, rather than from those who are.

Mike Flood and Steve Lathrop fit into that category. 

So did Rick Sheehy, although there never was a formal announcement that he was out of the governor's race after he resigned as lieutenant governor under fire. No public declaration of withdrawal was needed at that point.

Tim Clare could have been a big-name candidate, too.

The 2014 gubernatorial race looks absolutely open right now.

If you can name the next governor, you're a lot smarter -- or more daring -- than I am. I haven't a clue.

Do not see an obvious winner in the current list. 

That could mean someone in that group is going to emerge from the pack months from now with hard work, a winning message, sufficient funding, compelling TV ads and a skillful campaign. 

Or it could mean the next governor isn't in the race yet.

So far, Janssen, Herbster, Carlson are the names on the Republican side, with Janssen off to the early-bird start. 

Hassebrook and Dubas are the Democratic names in the hunt.

All are well-known in certain circles, but they are not household names.

As a little test, see how many first names you can attach to those candidates.

In 1990, the first time Ben Nelson ran for governor, he said he entered the race as a household name in only one house in the state, and he lived there. 

Nelson ultimately won the Democratic nomination after a couple of recounts and then ousted Republican Gov. Kay Orr in a very close race. 

Lots of reports suggest Pete Ricketts eventually will jump into the 2014 Republican fray. He's higher on the name recognition scale after a 2006 Senate race and all the publicity surrounding the Ricketts family's purchase of the Chicago Cubs.  

In the 2014 Senate race, you might guess the winner already is in the field.

Osborn, Sasse, McLeay are in the hunt on the Republican side.

OK, first names?

No Democratic candidates yet.

Perhaps the best word for the 2014 gubernatorial and Senate races is fluid.

There could be more prospects on the way.

Personal decision

 

When Bob Kerrey announced he would not seek a second term as governor in 1986, his supporters were surprised and disappointed.

"I'm not going to live other people's dreams," Kerrey said in talking about his decision. 

His life.

It's essentially a personal, not a political, decision.

That's what confronts potential candidates as they sometimes struggle with making the call.

And it should.

Finishing up

* Lots of early chatter about Sen. Annette Dubas' pro-life views. That might be a negative in the Democratic primary, observers suggest. But it also could deny Republicans an issue in the general election if she were the nominee. Or so the chatter goes.

* Rex Fisher is the newest name floated on political blogs as a potential Republican gubernatorial candidate. He's an executive at HDR, the big Omaha engineering firm, and former Nebraska president for Qwest.

* Deb Fischer says construction of the new U.S. Strategic Command headquarters complex at Offutt is on schedule, that there is no support in the Senate for another round of military base closures and realignments, and that she does "not hear any rumblings" about efforts by other states or their senators to try to swipe Offutt's prize military assets.

* Those 2014 elections for seats in the Legislature look more important all the time. With a new and untested governor taking office in 2015 and the Legislature emerging during the last couple of years as a stronger and more independent force, those election battles will determine whether the 2015 Legislature continues to bend toward moderate or becomes a staunchly conservative voice. 

* Unsolicited advice to A-Rod: Create and lead a large foundation to help kids. What people think about you in the future matters.

* Braves, Dodgers, Pirates, Tigers, am-I-forgetting-somebody, it's your year. A bad year in the Bronx, so be it, okay. Message to Mr. Steinbrenner's sons: Decline not OK.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or  dwalton@journalstar.com.