Bob Kerrey To Stay Out Of Nebraska Senate Race

What may have been the best chance for Democrats to hold on to Ben Nelson’s Senate seat has apparently slipped away:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Former Sen. Bob Kerrey said Tuesday he will not run for the Nebraska Senate seat he gave up more than a decade ago, shutting down hopes for a bid both parties called Democrats’ best chance to hold the seat but that Kerrey himself described as a longshot.

The 1992 presidential candidate and former Nebraska governor had considered seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Sen. Ben Nelson, who replaced Kerrey in the Senate in 2001. Nelson’s decision not to run for a third term this year came as a boon to Republicans, who must net four seats to retake the Senate and have made capturing the lone remaining Democratic seat in Nebraska’s congressional delegation a priority.

“I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer,” Kerrey said in an email. “For many reasons I nearly said yes. In the end I choose to remain a private citizen. To those who urged me to do so, I am sorry, very sorry to have disappointed you. I hope you understand that I have chosen what I believe is best for my family and me.”

Kerrey, who moved to New York City after giving up his seat, spent nearly a week in Nebraska this month to implore friends and family for advice about whether to run in a state that has drifted ideologically away from him since he left.

Of course, Kerrey has a history of mulling campaigns he never enters. He did so in 2000, when he considered another run for president, as well as in 2005, when he toyed with running for New York City mayor. His last came in 2008, when he again stepped away from a run for Nebraska’s last open U.S. Senate seat, now held by Republican Mike Johanns.

Nebraska Democrats will likely now hold a primary to find a candidate for Senate, but given the strength of the GOP in the state it’s going to be tough for them to hold on to this seat.

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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.