Riding in the back seat of his own van, the one with the bumper sticker reading "Beef: The West Wasn't Won on Salad", the second-youngest speaker of the legislature in Nebraska history lays the groundwork for his next move.
Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk said, "Since early June I've been driving around the state, meeting with folks, talking about the last legislative session. It's no secret I'm interested in running for governor and I think part of the process is to understand different parts of the state, find out what's important, what's moving, what needs attention."
Flood's travels brought him to Central City, where he checked out new housing developments and the Green Plains ethanol plant.
To attract more business, he says infrastructure like roads and natural gas lines need to be improved, but the biggest hurdle is the workforce.
He said, "We need welders, we need folks that can run tool and die machines, folks that understand HVAC systems and electricians, those jobs are ready, right here, and a lot are open right now because we just don't have enough people."
The 37-year-old radio station manager and lawyer says the state needs to better promote those opportunities that some have begun to find.
Flood said, "What's amazing is a lot of young people are moving back to rural Nebraska. Agriculture's booming, people are excited, a lot of communities are, certainly drought doesn't help, but I've seen a lot of people, folks my age move back, raise a family."
Flood's wrapping up an eight year legislative career that saw him oversee debate on the Keystone pipeline and prenatal care.
Stops like the one at the Merrick County Fairgrounds could be among the first on the road
to the governor's office.
"I'm not raising money, I'm not an announced candidate. I'm certainly testing the waters but
also as speaker of the legislature explaining what legislature's been up to," he said.
Flood says he's in favor of keeping term limits as they are, but he does support a pay raise for state senators since they make a thousand dollars a month.
And he says some work overnight at target to pay the bills when they're in session.
Flood toured Central City Scale as well as Green Plains Ethanol. He also drove through the community, where he saw the hospital, new housing developments, and community aquatic center.