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State Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse has decided to seek a seat on the Nebraska Public Service Commission with an eye on infrastructure issues such as extension of broadband internet service in rural Nebraska and increased telecommunication services.

If elected in November, Watermeier would leave the Legislature in the midst of his second four-year term.

"I took several months to consider this and decided it's the right time for me, although giving up two years in the Legislature is not something that comes easy for me," he said before Friday's formal announcement in the Capitol Rotunda.

A lineup composed of 15 fellow senators, a number of former senators and much of the state's Republican establishment joined Watermeier as he announced his candidacy.

Former Gov. Dave Heineman described the senator as "a common-sense, fiscal conservative who puts Nebraska's interests first."

Watermeier said he will focus on helping grow the state's infrastructure.

"Southeast Nebraska needs someone who will support the infrastructure needs to help our agriculture producers receive important broadband infrastructure and ensure our safety with the 911 system," University of Nebraska Regent Rob Schafer of Beatrice said. 

Infrastructure issues are "right up my alley," Watermeier said during the earlier interview.

Asked his position on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Watermeier said he would have supported a decision to authorize its construction in Nebraska.  

The PSC approved the project, but directed its construction along an alternative route other than the path that TransCanada, its developer, preferred. 

Watermeier, a Republican who farms in Otoe County, is seeking the 1st District seat now held by Frank Landis of Lincoln, who is not seeking re-election.

Ron Nolte of Plattsmouth previously filed as a candidate for the Republican nomination. 

In the Legislature, Watermeier holds a leadership position as chairman of its Executive Board. He's a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

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On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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