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Nebraska: Battle for the Statehouse

Incumbent: Republican Gov. David Heineman

Democrat: Attorney Mike Meister

2008 Presidential Result: Obama 42%; McCain 57%

55+ Population (2009 estimate): 24.6%

Overview: In this contest between successors, Gov. David Heineman, who succeeded former Gov. and now U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in 2005, faces attorney Mike Meister, who succeeded Mark Lakers, who won last spring's Democratic primary, but dropped out of the race in July. Heineman won his first full term in 2006 with a lopsided 73 percent of the vote and is favored to be reelected. He graduated from West Point and retired from the U.S. Army as a captain. At his urging the state legislature enacted two strict anti-abortion laws. One bans abortions at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the other requires women seeking an abortion to be screened for mental health. Heineman also helped negotiate trade agreements for Nebraska farmers with Taiwan and Cuba.

50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.

Fun Fact: Four of Nebraska's previous six governors have gone on to become U.S. senators: James Exon (D), Bob Kerrey (D), Ben Nelson (D) and Mike Johanns (R).

'Wild Card' Issue: Obama's legacy. Will there be any sign of the enthusiasm among young voters that Obama's presidential campaign sparked in 2008 when he won 68 percent of the caucus vote?

Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future

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