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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, reported to be considering a bid for Senate, sidestepped questions on Wednesday about whether he will run for a Nebraska seat next year.
Johanns was asked if he would put off announcing a possible candidacy until the 2007 farm bill, a major agriculture law now being drafted by Congress, was finished. He said only that his staff would see out the farm bill process.
"No federal department is about one person. Ideally, if I've done this right, I've brought to the USDA the best people to work on these policy issue, because you know what, we do leave at some point," he said at a pork industry meeting.
Congress had been expected to wrap up the farm bill by early fall, but it now appears it may stretch into 2008.
Two Nebraska newspapers reported Johanns, an Iowa native and a former Nebraska governor, was expected to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.
Reports on Wednesday indicated Johanns had already made a decision. Johanns was circumspect.
"On the last day that I am there, whatever that day is, I am going to be able to identify a list of things that we are still working on, whether that be the last day of the administration of before that," he said.
If he runs, Johanns would join Republicans Attorney General Jon Bruning and former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub in the race.
Among state Democrats, former Sen. Bob Kerrey is also said to be considering a run.