In a partisan era, the 35-year-old speaker of the unicameral Nebraska legislature stresses consensus. The conservative attorney has a poster in his office describing the losses suffered by Napoleon's army in 1812. The message to visitors: Negotiate or perish.
Who is your political hero/inspiration?
President Reagan was in the White House during my grade school years, and he remains a hero to me. I took an early interest in politics.
What's your go-to political blog?
CNN Political Ticker
If you weren't working in politics, what would you be doing?
The legislative session in Nebraska runs for part of the year. When we're not in session, I have a general law practice in my hometown of Norfolk and help run two radio stations, a country station and a classic rock station. It's kind of like the TV show "Ed", except instead of a bowling alley, I work in a radio station.
What's the most overlooked issue facing America these days?
I represent a more rural area of the state, and I think one of the big, and sometimes overlooked, issues is the depopulation of our smaller towns and communities. The loss of population creates real challenges for local leaders, and especially impacts schools, availability of health care, and infrastructure funding.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
I don't know other than continuing to practice law and staying involved in radio. I look forward to the next two years representing the people of Madison County in the Legislature. When I became Speaker, a former Nebraska Speaker told me to enjoy my service in the Legislature because there is no better job; it really has been a privilege and a great experience.