Will the Governor Run?

While many candidates have announced their intentions to stand for election in 1990, Nebraska’s governor has remained mum on the subject. Governor Kay Orr’s insistence that she will make her plans public when she is ready echoes an earlier Republican governor’s stance.

Sixty years ago, political pundits speculated that then-Governor Arthur J. Weaver might challenge Senator George W. Norris for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race. But the Governor was not about to be pushed into early revelation of his intent. The Sarpy County Agriculturist reported, “Governor Weaver has refused to give sanction to the report that he intends to become a candidate for the republican senatorial nomination, although it is believed by his close friends that he has not fully made up his mind to reject the idea.”

“State Treasurer W. M. Stebbins has already announced his candidacy and was firm in his intention, he stated, not to withdraw in favor of Weaver or anyone else. Comments coming from prominent republicans, who have recently been visitors at the capitol, indicate their belief that Weaver would have an even chance of defeating Norris for the nomination, but have expressed strong doubt that he could do so with the vote being split among other candidates. It is believed, for this reason, that the attitude of Stebbins to stand pat will have considerable to do with Weaver’s decision to enter the race, if he is at this time seriously considering it, as his friends believe to be the fact.”

The article concluded with a declaration remarkably similar to the cautions expressed this year by Governor Orr: “The governor is not permitting anyone to make any statement for him, however, and will make his own statement in the proper time, he said.”

Ultimately, the Governor chose to run for re-election. He lost to Democrat Charles W. Bryan, but it’s doubtful he would have fared better if he had run for the Senate. George Norris roundly defeated his Republican opposition (including Treasurer Stebbins) in the 1930 primary. And in November, Norris overwhelmed the Democratic nominee (and former Senator) Gilbert M. Hitchcock. In fact, Norris received more votes than any candidate of either party running for elective office in Nebraska that year.

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