LINCOLN — Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood announced Thursday that he is withdrawing from the race for governor because his wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Flood tweeted the news shortly before he held a press conference at the Capitol.
He said his wife, Mandi, received the diagnosis Monday.
"I can't have one foot in (the gubernatorial race) and one foot out," Flood said Wednesday. "Right now, all I want to concentrate on is helping her make a 100 percent recovery. I need to be home every night."
Mandi Flood has had surgery to remove the tumor. The Floods now are waiting for test results to determine if the cancer spread to Mandi's lymph nodes. No matter the results, chemotherapy likely will be the next treatment step, Flood said.
Flood was in Lincoln to announce his decision to leave the race. Then the family was headed to Orlando and Disney World while they await Mandi Flood's test results.
Flood, a Republican, entered the 2014 governor's race Nov. 12. His wife and their two boys – Brenden, 6, and Blake, 3 – were with him for the announcement.
The next day, Flood said, his wife told him that she had detected a lump in her breast.
Flood said his wife has always supported him in his political and business ventures. Now is the time, he said, to fully support her and their children as they deal with the cancer diagnosis.
"She's just 36. It doesn't seem right that someone so young should have this, but I know there are many people who receive this same news and deal with it. We will survive this," he said.
Flood, 37, said he also hopes Nebraskans who were excited about his gubernatorial bid will understand his reasons for pulling out of the race.
“It's been a true joy to travel Nebraska the last six months, to serve as speaker the last six years. This is a great state, with a bright future,” he said.
Flood had been expected to be a tough competitor for Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, who also is in the 2014 race and has Gov. Dave Heineman's endorsement.
Flood is in the last days of his term as a state senator and speaker of the Legislature. He was the second-youngest person elected speaker. He was 31 when elected to that post six years ago.
Messages of support and sympathy poured out in the wake of the announcement.
"My thoughts and prayers are with my friend Mike Flood, his wonderful wife and his family," said State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle said: "Deb and I are sending our thoughts and prayers to Mike and Mandi Flood, and wishes for a speedy recovery.
Vince Powers, chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said: "All Nebraskans wish the best for Mandi Flood and family. We hope for a speedy recovery. Mandi & Mike Flood are in our thoughts. Take care."
Stay with Omaha.com for more on this developing story.
This story contains information from The World-Herald News Service.