Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Nebraska: Bob Kerrey Won’t Run for Senate

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey will not be running for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D) Nebraska Senate seat.

“For many reasons I nearly said yes. In the end I choose to remain a private citizen,” Kerrey wrote in an email, according to the Associated Press. “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.”

After Nelson announced his retirement late last year, Kerrey was viewed as the best hope for Democrats to hold on to the seat.

“As we have seen in the last several weeks, Republicans are at each other’s throats in Nebraska. The Republican primary in the state has become a proxy war between Mitch McConnell’s ethically challenged candidate Jon Bruning and Jim DeMint’s tea partier Don Stenberg, which will provide an opportunity for Democrats to remain competitive,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter said, referring to the top Republicans in the race.

National and state Republicans are gleeful over the decision.

“Kerrey’s decision to stay in New York is a blow to the Democrats’ hopes of holding their Senate majority and reiterates why we believe Nebraskans will elect a fiscally-responsible, conservative Republican Senator next fall,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said in a statement.

Kerrey has been mulling a run since the beginning of the year. The Democratic field has been frozen, waiting on him to make a move.

Three Democrats who have been mentioned as candidates are state Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak, currently a lobbyist, and Center for Rural Affairs Executive Director Chuck Hassebrook. None have the star power of Nelson or Kerrey.

Bruning, the state attorney general, is considered the frontrunner in the GOP primary. Stenberg, the state treasurer, has gotten a lift in recent weeks from the support of conservative outsiders such as DeMint. State Sen. Deb Fischer has struggled to keep up and lagged behind her competitors in fundraising.

Roll Call rates the Nebraska Senate race as Likely Republican.

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