Johanns, 62, had begun to accrue seniority among Senate Republicans. But after pushing for a major deficit-cutting deal in the last several years, the Republican has grown increasingly frustrated at Congress' perpetual stalemate and its inability to resolve major national problems. Johanns informed his staff and Gov. David Heineman of his decision Monday morning, sources said.
In an emotional letter to constituents, Johanns said it was time to quit after more than three decades in public life.
"Words are inadequate to fully express our appreciation for the friendship and support you have given to us over the past three decades," Johanns wrote Monday in a letter to constituents, also signed by his wife Stephanie. "With everything in life, there is a time and a season. At the end of this term, we will have been in public service over 32 years. Between the two of us, we have been on the ballot for primary and general elections 16 times and we have served in eight offices. It is time to close this chapter of our lives."
Nebraska remains firm Republican territory, with its three House seats all occupied by Republicans. But an open seat could give Democrats a shot in the red state that they probably would have written off had Johanns decided to run for a second term.
"I am personally grateful for Mike's leadership in the Senate and all he has done in helping to smooth my transition. His rare mix of strong leadership and warm collegiality has earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle. While I am fortunate to have two more years to serve alongside him, I am sad to see Mike leave the Senate," said Sen. Deb Fischer, Johann's junior GOP colleague from Nebraska.
Johanns was a hard-line conservative on the Senate Banking Committee. He recently demanded the resignation of Richard Cordray, head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after a court decision placed the constitutionality of Cordray's 2012 recess appointment in question.
Johanns joined with his party in pledging to block any new CFPB director unless the agency is restructured, and he is at the forefront of a legislative charge to block the consumer agency from going forward with decisions made under Cordray's tenure.
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