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State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, a legislator who has been a leader in water policy, announced Friday he will seek the 2014 Republican nomination for governor.

Carlson, who described himself as a fiscal conservative who would invest in public safety, quality education and roads infrastructure, joins state Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont in the GOP race with more contenders certain to be not far behind.

Falls City businessman Charles Herbster appears likely to jump into the contest soon.

Carlson's announcement attracted a large gathering in the Capitol Rotunda and was delivered with a brief evangelical touch and preceded by his son's introductory reference to constitutional principles.

"I believe in the Bible and the God who inspired it," Carlson said. And that, he said, influences "everything I do."

In introducing his father, Chad Carlson referred to his devotion to "the vision of the Founding Fathers," specifically including the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, which reserve powers to the people and the states.

"The Number One priority of the government is to keep the people safe," Sen. Carlson said.

Among his priorities as governor, he said, would be policies that "help those who cannot provide for themselves," but he said he wants the state to "do a better job incentivizing people who can provide for themselves."

Carlson said he would support changes in unemployment compensation and child care subsidies that phase out assistance as people become able to take care of more of their own needs.

And, he said, he supports "a fair and competitive tax policy" that encourages job creation and economic activity while financing government services.

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Carlson, 71, a financial adviser, was elected as a state senator in 2006 and will be term-limited out of the Legislature at the end of next year. He said he has not yet formed a campaign team but pledged to engage in a positive campaign.

"If there is any negative material, be assured it will not be from our campaign," he said.

Carlson said he decided to enter the contest only after former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood informed him he would not be returning to the race. Flood withdrew last December when his wife, Mandi, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In the Legislature, Carlson is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and formerly headed the Agriculture Committee.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or


Political reporter

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

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