David 'Dave' Eugene Heineman

Contact Information

Telephone:402-471-2244 (Main phone number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Falls City, NE
Residence:Lincoln, NE
First Elected: 


Status:Not seeking re-election
Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: U.S. Military Academy


Dave Heineman was born in Falls City, Neb., but grew up in Fairbury, McCook, Benkelman and Wahoo. He attended the U.S. Military Academy where in 1970 he earned a bachelor's degree in economics.

Heineman served on the staff of Rep. Doug Bereuter and as chief of staff for Rep. Hal Daub, both Nebraska Republicans.

He served on the Fremont City Council from 1990 to 1994. He was elected state treasurer in 1994 and re-elected in 1998.

Heineman replaced in 2001 then-Lt. Gov. Dave Maurstad — who took a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency — and was elected to the post in 2002.

He became governor early in 2005, after then-Gov. Mike Johanns resigned to become U.S. agriculture secretary.

Heineman was elected governor in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010.

Heineman and his wife, Sally, have a son.


Dave Heineman has maintained a tight focus on tax cuts, education and business development in his final term as Nebraska's governor, but the popular Republican has struggled at times to keep his party united.

The two-term governor has hammered on a message that Nebraska needs to compete more effectively with other states to attract businesses and workers. He worked with the Legislature in 2007 to pass the largest tax cut in state history, and championed a series of tax credits and grants aimed at high-tech start-up companies.

In 2011, he was elected chairman of the National Governors Association and led the group's effort to help each state grow its economy. He also pushed for the development of the Nebraska Innovation Campus, a research park at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that partners public researchers with private businesses.

But Heineman tangled in 2012 with lawmakers — including some fellow Republicans — in the officially nonpartisan, one-house Legislature.

Lawmakers shrank his $327 million tax cut proposal down to one-third of its original size, saying the state would need the revenue for other priorities. They overrode his vetoes of a sales tax measure for cities and a proposal that restored taxpayer-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants in Nebraska.

Heineman denounced the measure as a giveaway for illegal immigrants, but his stance placed him at odds with a segment of core supporters: abortion opponents who viewed prenatal care as a pro-life issue.

Despite the controversy, Heineman remains popular among the state's conservative base. He was elected to his first full term as governor with 73 percent support — a record margin in Nebraska — and re-elected in 2010 with nearly 74 percent backing. Term limits will force him from office in 2014.

Heineman in 2008 called a special session of the Legislature to amend the state's open-ended safe haven law, which lawmakers passed and he signed without an age limit. Thirty-six children, many of them teenagers, were dropped off at Nebraska hospitals under the law, which was designed to prevent infants from being dumped in trash bins or worse.

In early 2009, he pushed a bill in the Legislature to change the state's method of execution to lethal injection. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that electrocution, the state's only method of execution, is unconstitutional.

Heineman honed his conservative credentials as an aide to two Nebraska GOP House representatives — Doug Bereuter and Hal Daub — and as the executive director of his state's Republican Party.

He passed up opportunities to run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and the U.S. House in 2006. He served as lieutenant governor from 2001 to early 2005, when then-Gov. Mike Johanns was picked to become U.S. agriculture secretary, giving Heineman a chance to move into a position he described as "the most exciting and challenging job I can think of."

Heineman in 2006 pulled off arguably the most stunning victory in Nebraska politics, defeating a sitting congressman and former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He went on to win his first full term as governor, defeating Democratic challenger David Hahn with 74 percent of the vote.

American Conservative Union Rating: Not rated

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: Not rated


Dave Heineman is not seeking re-election in 2014.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 9, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018