Watermeier wins PSC seat
Dan Watermeier emerged victorious in a hard-fought race for Nebraska Public Service Commission that reflected a surge in public attention on the office, largely attributable to its role in approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The Republican state senator and pipeline supporter from Syracuse defeated Democrat Christa Yoakum of Lincoln, a pipeline opponent, by about 3,700 votes, according to unofficial statewide results.
“It turned out better than we thought,” said Watermeier, who will succeed Commissioner Frank Landis of Lincoln. Landis is retiring after representing District 1 on the commission for three decades.
Watermeier will leave the Legislature with a key vacancy.
His role as Executive Board chairman gives him oversight of the Legislature’s day-to-day operations, which includes preparations for the upcoming session. “That’s my priority right now,” he said.
Gov. Pete Ricketts will appoint someone to serve the remaining two years of Watermeier’s legislative term in a district that includes all of Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson counties, as well as most of Otoe County. It will be up to lawmakers to choose his replacement on the Executive Board.
Watermeier will go from having 48 colleagues in the Legislature to four on the Public Service Commission.
The commission regulates telecommunications carriers, natural gas utilities, major oil pipelines, railroad safety, passenger carriers (such as taxis and ride-hailing services) and household-goods movers, grain warehouses and dealers, modular home and recreational-vehicle construction, high-voltage electric transmission lines and private water company rates.
In the only other Public Service Commission race this year, incumbent Commissioner Tim Schram of Gretna, a Republican, handily defeated Democratic challenger Mike Forsythe of Omaha in District 3.