By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
Updated 2:37 p.m. Friday
LINCOLN – Fullerton Sen. Annette Dubas is jumping into the governor’s race. The Democratic state senator plans to formally announce her plans late next month.
Her colleague in the Legislature, Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, has been engaged in a statewide tour while mulling a run, but announced today on Twitter that he has decided not to run for governor.
“After much thought, I have decided against a run for governor,” he wrote. “I look forward to continuing to serve (legislative district) 12 in the 2014 legislative session.”
The only other Democrat in the race so far is former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons. Dubas’s entry into the race sets up a stark contrast between the two Democrats on at least one hot-button issue: abortion. Dubas is pro-life, Hassebrook is pro-choice.
Dubas is one of just a handful of Democratic lawmakers who were endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life. In fact, on her Right to Life questionnaire in 2006 and 2010, she said she only supported abortion to prevent the death of the mother; she opposed abortion even in cases of forcible rape or incest that was reported to law enforcement.
In 2010, she said the Right to Life endorsement was vital in her pro-life district, and said her record on abortion was strong. In 2011 she introduced a bill that would prohibit health exchanges from covering abortion.
Hassebrook, meanwhile, was not endorsed by the pro-life group in 2006, but instead by Planned Parenthood Voters of Nebraska. He’s also known for refusing to join other NU regents who tried to restrict stem cell research. He said today he supports current law on abortion in Nebraska.
“Certainly we have a different view on this issue,” he told Nebraska Watchdog.
But he said the primary campaign should focus on “issues that matter most to Nebraskans” which he identified as having a cost-effective government that strengthens our education system and invests in jobs and opportunities.
“I welcome Annette to the race,” he said. “She’s been a friend. She is a friend. I look forward to a good healthy debate about how we move the state forward.”
Dubas was born in Omaha but graduated from Fullerton High School and married her high school sweetheart, Ronald, and went on to have four children and farm and ranch together. She’s completing her second term as a senator, meaning she will be term-limited out of that office next year. This year she was elected chairwoman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
She’s a former District 2 Farmers Union president, CCD (a Catholic education program) teacher, Eucharist minister and lector. She is a former member of the Fullerton Public School Board and Nance County Planning and Zoning board.
She played a significant role in the debate over the Keystone XL oil pipeline siting process through Nebraska. This year she introduced a bill that would require companies to have their permits before threatening to condemn land. She said when faced with the prospect of having to allow an oil pipeline to be built on their land through condemnation, landowners have a “strong, almost visceral” reaction.
On the Republican side, Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, Holdrege Sen. Tom Carlson and Falls City businessman Charles Herbster are running for governor, while Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts is considering a run.
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