Bob Kerrey Announces He’ll Run For Nebraska Senate Seat After All

Three weeks after announcing that he was not running, former Senator Bob Kerrey has apparently changed his mind and will now be running to replace Ben Nelson in the Senate:

Bob Kerrey is coming back.

The former Nebraska governor announced today that he would run for U.S. Senate, setting the stage for a competitive election year in Nebraska as Democrats fight to retain the seat and Republicans battle to take it back.

Kerrey acknowledged that his thought-making process may have been unconventional — he initially said he was out, then said he was in — but he ultimately decided he wanted to be a part of the national debate.

His statement: “Doing things the conventional way has never been my strong suit. This afternoon, I will file to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska. I came to realize that my previous decision was the easy one, not the right one.

“My commitment to serve Nebraska and America, and to be part of the debate about the challenges we face was too strong to dismiss. My family supports this decision 100%. I look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to do.”

Kerrey later said he originally took his name out of the running three weeks ago because he feared a return to the U.S. Senate would require him to be away from his family too long.

But he said he and his wife decided on Sunday that they could overcome those concerns.

“My wife has reached a conclusion we can manage it. She has obviously traveled a considerable distance since we first talked about it,” said Kerrey.

His entry in the race gives Democrats a fighting chance at keeping the seat in the wake of Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson’s retirement. The hope is that Kerrey still has the star power and political chops needed to mount a comeback 18 years after he ran his last election in Nebraska.

Kerrey’s decision to run raises the stakes in the U.S. Senate race in Nebraska on both the national and statewide stages. It instantly puts the race on the national radar, and douses any thoughts that Republicans would take Nebraska in a cakewalk.

It will be a fight.

Indeed it will. In addition to name recognition inside the Cornhusker State, Kerrey is likely to be able to attract money from out of state that will allow him to mount a competitive campaign in a state that is clearly more conservative than it was when he represented it as Governor and Senator. Republicans still need to pick a candidate, but this clearly raises the stakes in this race.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    It’s probably just a coincidence, but the timing seems odd, eh? He gets back in one day after Snowe decides not to run, thus increasing dramatically the odds that the Dems will retain power in the Senate.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Weren’t there rumors of Kerrey running as early as last weekend?

  3. Yes these rumors have been floating for a few days at least now so, no, there’s no “coincidence” between today’s news and Snowe’s retirement

  4. superdestroyer says:

    How is it good for Nebraska to be represented in the Senate by someone who has not lived in the state for over a decade.

    I guess as the U.S. becomes a one party state more of this will happen since personality and name recognition will become the most important aspect of a candidate.