Gov. Dave Heineman said Monday he's looking for a lieutenant governor who will make a commitment to not run for governor in 2014.
He is considering a number of people and will make a decision in the next few weeks, he said. Most of this week, he'll be focused on tax reform.
Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after phone records obtained by the Omaha World-Herald, and subsequently other media, revealed thousands of calls were made to women other than his wife on his state cell phone.
Heineman said he talked to Sheehy when the calls were revealed and it became "very clear" what was going on, which led to the resignation. He said he'd had "a conversation or two" with Sheehy about rumors before that.
"I don't react to all the rumors," he said. "If I did that, I'd be dealing with all sorts of issues every single day. Every time I was aware of something of a significant nature, I checked into it."
He said public officials are held to a higher standard and Sheehy betrayed his trust. People expect elected officials not to misuse public resources and to lead by example in a variety of ways, he said.
By choosing a replacement who will not run for governor, Heineman said he would be trying not to give any one person an advantage in the coming election for governor.
"I think the primary on both sides will be very competitive. And that will be good news for the people of Nebraska, and let them make the choice," he said.
At this stage of the game, he has a number of friends who are going to run, and taking sides is not the best way to go, he said.
State senators are not on the list to replace Sheehy, he said, because the state constitution disallows them from being appointed to a state office.
Heineman said he getting a number of suggestions from people on possible successors to Sheehy. He would like to get 10-15 names to consider, narrow that down and talk to one or two.
The lieutenant governor presides over the Legislature, is director of homeland security for the state, is chair of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission and attends events on behalf of the governor. He expects the person to also be active in the tax reform debate and work with the Legislature on that issue.
"I'm expecting this person to fulfill the office of lieutenant governor in a very vigorous manner," he said.