During an emotional press conference, Speaker Mike Flood announced today he is withdrawing from the governor’s race after his wife, Mandi, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Monday.
With a number of state senators of both parties looking on, Flood said he is confident Mandi, 36, will beat cancer and the experience will bring his family closer together. He and his wife and two sons — Brenden, 6, and Blake, 3 — are leaving for Disney World tomorrow morning.
“We’re going to be fine,” he said nervously, shaking his foot behind him while trying to maintain his composure. “I have every reason to believe that this is going to be a memory in five years.”
Flood said it was a joint decision between he and his wife.
“This was just the right decision,” he said. “These are easy questions to answer.”
Before announcing his departure from the race, Flood talked about how much he enjoyed traveling the state for the past six months and serving as speaker for the past six years.
“This is a great state, with a bright future. Nebraskans set an example for the rest of the country, we are hard-working, we don’t spend more than we earn, we are good neighbors, and we take care of our families,” he said.
Asked whether he could see running for office in the future, he said, “Not really.”
He said his political career “doesn’t really matter” right now.
“I’ve got some pretty big things to address,” Flood said. “It puts it into perspective real quick.”
A Judiciary Committee executive session was scheduled to start at the same time as Flood’s press conference, but after hearing Flood’s announcement, chairman Brad Ashford was barely able to speak, he was so emotional. He told observers about Flood’s announcement, saying from what he understood it is a pretty serious case.
“We tend to be sort of family down here,” he said as he regained his composure.
Flood said his wife has had surgery to remove a tumor and is awaiting test results to determine if the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, according to the Norfolk Daily News. Chemotherapy will likely be done either way. She found a lump one day after Flood formally entered the governor’s race on Nov. 12, according to Flood’s hometown newspaper.
Flood is a popular senator, known for brokering compromises on big issues such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline. After his announcement, senators were clustered around the capitol, looking shocked and sometimes bleary-eyed.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I have had here in the legislature to move our state forward, and for the opportunity to get to know so many Nebraskans in communities across the state,” Flood said in a press release. “I am hopeful for the future of our state but I am committed first and foremost to my wife and sons.”