Mike O. Johanns

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-4224 (Main phone number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Osage, IA
Residence:Lincoln, NE
First Elected: 


Status:Not seeking re-election
Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: Saint Mary's University of Minnesota


Graduate education: Creighton University


Mike Johanns was born in Osage, Iowa, and has a home in Omaha, Neb. He earned a bachelor's degree from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in 1971 and a law degree from Creighton University in 1974.

Johanns was elected Nebraska Governor in 1998 and won re-election in 2002. He served three years as the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

Johanns is married to former state Sen. Stephanie Armitage. He has a son and a daughter from a previous marriage.


Although he began his political career as a Democrat, Republican Mike Johanns has made a name for himself as a staunch right-winger since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

In his first year in the Senate, Johanns voted with the GOP 94 percent of the time, including opposing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. He opposed the 2010 health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama, calling it bad policy even after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 upheld it as constitutional.

In 2012, when it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency was using aerial surveillance to check farms in the Midwest for violations of federal clean water regulations, Johanns introduced an amendment to a multifaceted farm bill to stop the flights, but it fell four votes short of the 60 needed.

"EPA has been deliberately ambiguous when it comes to the size and scope of this program," Johanns said in a statement. "EPA must be honest about this program or cease it entirely, and I will continue pressing for this information on behalf of all concerned farmers and ranchers."

Johanns led the charge against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a national group that came under fire for several voter-registration fraud cases. Johanns introduced a bill passed in September 2009 that cut all federal funding to ACORN. A similar bill passed in the House and ACORN officials have sued to try to reverse the withheld funding.

Johanns took some heat for siding with the Republican caucus against an amendment that would have denied defense contracts to companies that fail to seek justice for employees who are raped by other employees.

Johanns began his foray into politics nearly three decades ago, when he was elected as a Democrat to the Lancaster County Board of Supervisors in southeast Nebraska. He switched parties in 1988, winning election as a Republican to the Lincoln City Council and, three years later, the city's mayor.

His political status — and conservative leanings — have only grown since. He was elected Nebraska's governor in 1998, and during his second term accepted President George W. Bush's appointment to U.S. secretary of agriculture. He stepped down in 2007 to launch his U.S. Senate bid.

Johanns was named 2009's "Ag Person of the Year" by the agriculture publication ProFarmer, which said Johanns was one of the few farm-state lawmakers who had kept agriculture a top priority.

Johanns said the honor meant a lot to him, adding that he's had a passion for agriculture since growing up on his father's dairy farm.

During his tenure in the Senate, Johanns has eschewed earmarks, legislative amendments that allow members of Congress to add money for local projects to national bills in a process that is often obscured from public scrutiny.

"While I do believe attempts to reform the earmark process undertaken last session and earlier this year are definitely a start, I believe that those reforms have not gone far enough," Johanns said at the time of his election.

Johanns faced a health scare during his first year as a senator, undergoing surgery in March 2009 after doctors found a spot on his left lung. No cancer was found, but doctors removed the lower left lobe of his lung as a precaution. Johanns was a smoker, but quit more than 20 years ago.

Committee Assignments: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Indian Affairs; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Veterans' Affairs; Environment and Public Works

American Conservative Union Rating: 70

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 20


Mike Johanns is not seeking re-election in 2014.

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

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018