With many families, the son follows the father into the business. For Philip and Steve Erdman, it was Philip who first got into state politics, 16 years before his father.
“It wasn’t really my idea to run for state senate,” Philip said. “My family was part of a case that dealt with eminent domain and property rights. My parents couldn’t make it to Lincoln for the legislative hearing. Because I was in college at Lincoln, they asked me to testify for them.”
Some of the attendees from Morrill County were impressed and starting suggesting Philip could be their representative.
“My father had been on the school board, but we’d never been involved in a political campaign,” Philip said. “I looked at the issues I cared about and talked with lots of people before I decided to run.”
Philip joined the state Legislature for the 2001 session at the age of 23. And many topics, like taxation, remain a big issue.
“We had budget shortfalls back then just like we do now,” Philip said. “We fought for tax reform while others were trying to raise taxes. I offered a comprehensive rewrite of the budget one year to prevent a tax increase. It got 19 votes, but it changed the budget direction that year.”
Because of term limits, Philip finished out his career in 2008. From there, he went to work for six years as state ag director and deputy state director for U.S. Senator Mike Johann’s Nebraska office.
When Johanns decided to not seek a second term, Philip moved on to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation in 2014. As vice president of membership, he works with county farm bureaus to promote the ag industry.
“My greatest accomplishment as a state senator was meeting my wife,” he said. “That bill can’t be repealed.”
After Philip left office, Ken Schilz of Ogallala served eight years as District 47 state senator….