The Executive Summary: Nebraska lieutenant governor resigns amid phone call controversy

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February 7, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Sturm und Drang is the dominant theme this edition, between Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy's abrupt resignation and Republican-led legislatures in Wisconsin and Wyoming starting their 2013 sessions by seeking to restrain the powers of statewide elected officials. Let's dive in.

Nebraska Lt. Governor resigns

Nebraska’s Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy resigned his post late last week on the heels of an investigative report from the Omaha World-Herald revealing Sheehy had abused his state-issued mobile phone privileges. Through a simple public records request, the newspaper exposed that Sheehy had made roughly 2,300 phone calls, many late at night, to women other than his wife over the past four years.[1] "I had trusted him and that trust was broken," Gov. Dave Heinman explained at a Feb. 2 press conference where he made the shocking announcement.

A search is already underway to fill the vacancy left by Sheehy’s sudden departure. As governor, Heineman is authorized to appoint an interim lieutenant governor to serve out the remainder of Sheehy’s term, which expires Jan. 2015. Nebraska voters will choose a successor in the 2014 election.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag[2] If the governorship becomes vacant for any reason, before Heineman taps a new lieutenant, Republican Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams would be next in line to ascend to the chief executive post.

Heineman cannot seek another term as governor in 2014 because of term limits, [3] and had intended to enthusiastically back Sheehy, with whom he shared a winning ticket in both the 2006 and 2010 elections, as his successor. Sheehy announced his candidacy for governor back in July 2011, and [4] had been considered the front-runner until the recent scandal broke, causing a "deeply disappointed" Heineman to withdraw his support for his former second-in-command's campaign.[5] Days later, campaign donors reportedly began receiving refund checks in the mail, the final death knell for Sheehy’s foregone gubernatorial ambitions.[6]

In his resignation letter to Heineman, Sheehy wrote, "It has been a privilege to serve you and the great people of our state."[7]

Legislatures seek to restrict powers of elected state executives

Wyoming Superintendent of Education

On January 25, 2013, the Wyoming State Legislature passed a bill stripping the superintendent of most administrative duties. Gov. Matt Mead (R) signed it into law on January 29. The superintendent was removed as head of the Department of Education and replaced by Jim Rose, an interim director appointed by the governor. The position of superintendent will remain but be separate from the Department of Education.[8]

After he had finished signing the bill, Superintendent Cindy Hill (R) served Governor Mead with a lawsuit that argues the move was unconstitutional as it violates the consent of the people and nullifies their vote. Arguments in the case are set to be heard on March 14.[9] Hill has also filed for a temporary restraining order against implementation of the law until it can be ruled on by the court.[10]

Two days after the bill was signed, Hill officially announced her intention to run for governor in 2014. She said her decision to run for governor was driven by the swell of public support she has received in response to the lawsuit. Gov. Mead, who won the 2010 gubernatorial primary by just 703 votes, has not yet said if he will run.[11][12]

Wisconsin Secretary of State

Meanwhile, Wisconsin legislators are also seeking to restrict the power of a statewide elected official, albeit on a much smaller scale. In a move that Democrats are calling political payback, the Republican-led state Senate passed a bill to remove the power of the Secretary of State to delay new laws. The legislation stems back to the passage of the state's 2011 collective bargaining law, known as Act 10, that led to numerous recall elections and a sharp partisan divide.[13]

Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D) delayed publishing Act 10, which gave opponents time to go to court and delay it by months. Under state law, the secretary of state has up to 10 days to publish a law, a power that would be removed if Republicans have their way. LaFollette, who has currently served in the office since 1983, said he nearly always waits to publish new laws but that it has never been an issue before. “It’s hard not to see this as some sort of retribution issue. The only reason they’re doing this is because they couldn’t get what they wanted immediately," he stated.[14]

The bill, which was the first taken up by the full Senate this session, was passed on a party line and now goes to the Assembly.



See also: State executive official elections, 2013
State Executive Official Elections Results in 2013
Office Incumbent Incumbent Party Incumbent Running? 2013 Winner Partisan switch?
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie Ends.png Republican Yes Chris Christie No
Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey Kim Guadagno Ends.png Republican Yes Kim Guadagno No
Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell Ends.png Republican No Terry McAuliffe Yes
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Bill Bolling Ends.png Republican No Ralph Northam Yes
Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli Ends.png Republican No Mark Herring Yes
Superintendent of Wisconsin Tony Evers Grey.png Nonpartisan Yes Tony Evers No

There are three states holding state executive official elections in 2013 -- New Jersey, Virginia and Wisconsin. A total of six officials will be elected. The attention-grabbing positions up for election are Governor of New Jersey and Governor of Virginia. Both made The Washington Post’s list of the top 5 races to watch in 2013.


See also: Wisconsin state executive official elections, 2013

The first state executive election in 2013 will take place in Wisconsin, where incumbent Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is running for re-election. Unlike previous elections where multiple challengers filed to run, Evers only had one challenger submit the necessary signatures required to appear on the ballot.[15][16] The filing deadline passed on January 2, 2013.[15] This negates the need for the scheduled February 19, 2013 primary election. The two will instead face off in the general election on April 2nd.[17]


See also: Virginia state executive official elections, 2013

Heading into the 2013 election, all three state executive offices up for election this year in Virginia are occupied by Republicans, and none are running for re-election to their current posts. Term-limited Governor Bob McDonnell cannot run, and Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli is vying to replace to him. Meanwhile, incumbent Bill Bolling decided to pursue the governorship rather than seek another term as lt. governor, only to find himself shunted aside by Cuccinelli and a new convention style format for selecting Republican nominees. Cuccinelli secured the GOP nomination for governor, being the only member of his party to file by the convention’s Jan. 13th deadline, leaving Bolling to explore an alternative track to the ballot, most likely as an Independent candidate. Seven Republican candidates filed for Bolling’s seat, while two entered the race to replace Cuccinelli as attorney general.

Democratic primary candidates have until March 28 to file their nominating petitions with the state board of elections. They will be elected at the taxpayer funded primary election on June 11, and the Republican nominee will be voted on by delegates of the Virginia Republican Party at the party-funded statewide primary convention on May 18. The following list of Republican primary convention candidates is official as of January 13, 2013:

Mark your calendar
March 13Voter registration opens in Wisconsin
March 28Filing deadline for primary candidates in Virginia
April 1Filing deadline for primary candidates in New Jersey
April 2Wisconsin holds general election
May 17-18Virginia Republican Party holds statewide primary convention

Lieutenant Governor candidates

Attorney General candidates

New Jersey

See also: New Jersey state executive official elections, 2013

One by one, names of potential Democratic candidates for New Jersey Governor have defected to a new list of names- supporters of presumptive nominee Barbara Buono, a state Senator and currently the only individual from her party to formalize a gubernatorial bid for the upcoming election. On February 2, 2013, Buono’s campaign reported that it had surpassed the fundraising threshold to qualify for the public funding program whereby candidates who raise at least $380,000 can accept campaign funds from the state--controlled by the state election law enforcement commission--in amount proportionate to what the campaign receives directly from the public.[24] The purpose of the program is to lessen the influence of corporate contributions in elections;[25] candidates who choose to accept public funds may not spend more than $12.2 million on their gubernatorial campaigns, and the maximum amount of public (tax-generated) funds that any candidate may receive is $8.2 million.[26] New Jersey employs a two-to-one matching program for qualified contributions.

By the time Buono reached the qualifying mark, incumbent Chris Christie (R) had already raised $2 million for his re-election campaign. Unlike in 2009, Christie stated that he will not accept matching funds in the 2013 primary.[25] Despite Buono’s expanding campaign coffer and list of endorsements, which now includes the Democratic Governors’ Association, she faces what appears to be an uphill battle. The incumbency advantage aside, Christie’s fundraising prowess and popularity--especially since Hurricane Sandy--among heavyweights from both major parties shield him against an upset in November.



Idaho Controller

On Jan. 28, the Idaho Senate voted unanimously to confirm the appointment of Idaho Controller Brandon Woolf. Woolf began serving in the position in July 2012, when Gov. Butch Otter appointed him as interim controller following a car accident that left previous officeholder Donna M. Jones (R) severely injured and ultimately led her to resign the post. Otter formally tapped Woolf, then the Chief Deputy Controller to succeed Jones on October 15, 2012. [27][28]

It was expected that Jones would return to the job after her recovery, however, Jones decided to resign effectively immediately on October 15, 2012, after it was learned that her recovery could take up to two years. Jones stated, "I found myself pondering how I may best fulfill my sacred oath as I continue to heal. The conclusion I've reached is that the people of Idaho would be best served by a state controller who is able to fully devote her or his time and abilities to the job."[29]

Woolf first joined the Office of the Idaho Controller as an intern in 1997. Following that he served as a training specialist in the payroll division, a bureau chief, division administrator and chief of staff to Donna M. Jones (R) before being named acting Controller in July 2012.[30]

This week in State Executive Trivia

252px-Question book-3.jpg How many governors have later gone on to be elected President of the United States?

Answer: 17 They are:

  • New York currently leads with four governors later going on to become President, while Virginia is in second place with three. The first governor to become President was Thomas Jefferson, who served as Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781. He served as the third President of the United States from 1801–1809.

Recent news articles



  1. The Wall Street Journal, "Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Resigns," February 2, 2013
  2. The World Herald-Bureau, "Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy issues resignation," February 2, 2013
  3. World Herald-Bureau, "Mike Flood launches bid for governor's office in 2014," November 13, 2012
  4. Journal Star, "Sheehy says he will run for Nebraska governor in 2014," July 15, 2011
  5. The Wall Street Journal, “Nebraska lt. governor resigns," February 2, 2013
  6. Omaha World-Herald, “Sheehy’s campaign returns donations," February 6, 2013
  7. Gant Daily, "Nebraska Lt. Gov. resigns over phone call scandal," February 3, 2013
  8. Billings Gazette, "Legislature passes Wyoming school chief duties bill," January 25, 2013
  9. KGWN, “Hearing date set in superintendent Hill lawsuit," February 6, 2013
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named signed
  11. KJAB AM Radio, Cheyanne, "Hill Announces Run for Governor in 2014," January 29, 2013
  12. National Journal, “ Wyoming State Superintendent Announces Gov. Run," January 31, 2013
  13. Superior Telegram, "GOP moves to weaken Wisconsin Secretary of State," January 31, 2013
  14. The Cap Times, "Secretary of state speaks out against continuing assault on the office," January 31, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 Green Bay Press Gazette “State Superintendent Supreme Court Justice will face challenges" Accessed January 8, 2013
  16. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidate List-Spring 2013 Elections," accessed January 2, 2013
  17. WTAQ “State public school superintendent candidates take jabs at each other" Accessed January 8, 2013
  18. The Washington Post, "Snyder raises $450,000 for lieutenant governor bid," January 15, 2013
  19. Washington Post, "Scott Lingamfelter announces run for lieutenant governor," June 28, 2012
  20. Washington Post, "Virginia Sen. Stephen Martin plans to run for lt. governor," June 20, 2012
  21. Village News Online, "State Senator Martin decides to run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia," June 27, 2012
  22. Washington Post, "Jeannemarie Devolites-David running for lieutenant governor," September 24, 2012
  23. Washington Post, "Del. Bell to run for Virginia attorney general," December 5, 2011
  24., "Sen. Buono raises almost $250K in first month of campaigning," January 2, 2013
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Star-Ledger, "Buono qualifies for public matching funds in N.J. governor's race," February 4, 2013
  26. New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, "Press Release," June 19, 2012
  27. The Oregonian, "Idaho Senate confirms appointment of new state controller," January 28, 2013
  28. Idaho Statesman, "Otter appoints temporary Idaho controller to step in for ailing Donna Jones," July 3, 2012
  29. Idaho Press, "Idaho controller resigns, Woolf appointed," October 15, 2012
  30. The Spokesman Review, "Woolf named Idaho controller," October 16, 2012