Bob Kerrey, Former Senator, to Seek Old Seat in Nebraska

 @DanRivoli
on February 29 2012 3:30 PM
bob kerrey
Bob Kerrey, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska, said Wednesday he will seek his old seat. STR New / Reuters

Bob Kerrey Wednesday announced that he will seek his old Senate seat in Nebraska, left open by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, giving Democrats a fighting chance to keep the seat in their column as they fight to retain their majority.

Kerrey, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination won by Bill Clinton in 1992, was a Cornhusker State senator from 1989 to 2001 after serving as govenor. After leaving the Senate, Kerrey left Nebraska for New York City to become president of The New School, a university in Manhattan.

Doing things the conventional way has never been my strong suit, Kerrey said in a statement. This afternoon, I will file to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska. I came to realize that my previous decision [to skip the race] 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 percent. I look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to do.

The 68-year-old former senator and Vietnam War Medal of Honor winner was on the lips of Democrats who needed a strong candidate to replace Nelson, a fellow Democrat who opted to retire rather than face a grueling re-election campaign.

After sitting on the fence about seeking his old seat, Kerrey declined to run. This week, he reportedly informed Democratic leaders that he would reconsider.

Kerrey's Wednesday announcement came a day after Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few remaining Republican moderates, announced her retirement, blaming the partisan acrimony that has become a hallmark of Congress.

Between the announcements from Kerrey and Snowe, Democrats have a better chance at fending off Republicans who are eager to retake the Senate. Republicans need four seats for a majority.

While Kerrey is seen as the best shot at retaining the Nebraska seat, his time in New York City is ripe for Republican attacks. As Kerrey explored the race, GOP operative Karl Rove's political group ran radio ads criticizing his decade of Manhattan living.

Kerrey did not let that go unanswered. He sent Rove a letter about his very funny radio ad, inviting him to Nebraska to dine at one of the restaurants he owns in the state or work out at one of his health clubs.

Share this article