Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson To Retire

Politico is reporting that long-time Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat who many considered vulnerable in 2012, will retire rather than seek re-election:

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska will announce today that he is retiring after two terms, a serious blow to Democratic efforts to hold onto their majority in the chamber next November.

Nelson is scheduled to hold a press conference back home in Nebraska as early as today to make his decision official, said several Democratic insiders close to the leadership.

The 70-year-old Nelson was considered one of the most endangered Democratic incumbents this cycle. GOP-affiliated outside groups have already dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV ads bashing Nelson, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent over $1 million on their own ad blitz to bolster his image.

This race was rated a Toss-up by Charlie Cook, Stuart Rothenberg, and Larry Sabato, but Nelson declining to run is likely to push it into Lean Republican status at least initially given GOP successes there in 2010.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, 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. Liberty60 says:

    There is holding the Senate, then there is holding the Senate-
    Ben Nelson was always a quasi-Republican “with friends like this who needs enemies” Democrat.

    Politically, I would rather attack a Republican Senator than be forced to bite my tongue and defend another Nelson.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Unless more details emerge, it doesn’t appear that Nelson gave his party enough of a chance to find and prepare a different candidate.

  3. NBC is reporting that former Senator Bob Kerrey is reportedly considering running for Nelson’s seat. If that happens, this could be a tougher fight than the GOP anticipates

  4. Commonist says:

    Pro-zygote stick in the mud, liable to Reach Across the Aisle (TM) in order to try to sabotage the New Deal. Therefore, undesirable and a bad person.

  5. bandit says:

    The 70-year-old Nelson

    time to go.