- - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NEBRASKA

Ex-Sen. Kerrey not running again for seat

OMAHA — Former Sen. Bob Kerrey on Tuesday rejected a comeback run for Senate, dashing Democrats’ hopes of holding a coveted Nebraska seat and leaving the party to scramble for a race all but guaranteed to go Republicans’ way.

Many saw Mr. Kerrey, a 1992 presidential candidate and former governor, as Nebraska Democrats’ only chance to avoid delivering Republicans one of four seats they must net in November to take control of the Senate.

Mr. Kerrey kept Democrats on hold for more than a month while contemplating whether to seek the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Ben Nelson, the lone remaining Democrat in the state congressional delegation.

“I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer,” Mr. Kerrey said in an email announcing his decision. “I hope you understand that I have chosen what I believe is best for my family and me.”

He also said he was “very sorry to have disappointed” those who urged him to run, but he later rejected the assertion that his decision essentially ceded the seat to the GOP in the increasingly conservative state.

“Do the odds favor whoever wins the Republican primary winning the general election? The answer is yes. The numbers show that. Does that mean that absolutely that they’re going to win? No,” Mr. Kerrey said in a telephone interview from his office in New York City.

That Democrats’ best hope was Mr. Kerrey, who left the Senate and the state more than a decade ago, reflects the lack of depth on the state’s Democratic bench. The party now must find someone to run as little more than a placeholder at the top of the ticket. And the filing deadline for anyone already holding an elected office is Feb. 15.

“There are a lot of things we will be looking at in a very compressed period of time,” said state Sen. Steve Lathrop, Omaha Democrat, who has expressed interest in the seat. “I think there are always challenges, even when you have two years to run for office.”

Democrats already have lost one touted prospect in Kim Robak, who served as lieutenant governor under Mr. Nelson in the 1990s. Ms. Robak, now a lawyer and lobbyist in Lincoln, said she doesn’t feel she would have enough time to raise the money for an effective campaign.

“There is the potential for somebody who wants to spend the time and energy — who is able to spend the time and energy,” Ms. Robak said.

WHITE HOUSE

New plan to help math, science teacher prep

President Obama called Tuesday for millions of dollars in new funding to improve math and science education, an effort he said would be crucial to the nation’s long-term success.

Mr. Obama said his upcoming budget proposal, set to be released next week, would include a request for $80 million from Congress for a new Education Department competition to support math and science teacher preparation programs. Mr. Obama made a similar request to Congress last year but the measure didn’t pass.

Separately, he announced $22 million in investments from the private sector to support math and science efforts. Among the organizations committing fresh funding are Google and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Mr. Obama said a renewed focus on math and science education should be an American imperative.

“The belief that we belong on the cutting edge of innovation, that’s an idea as old as America itself,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re a nation of thinkers, dreamers, believers in a better tomorrow.”

Mr. Obama has set a goal of preparing more than 100,000 math and science teachers and training a million additional math, technology, engineering and science graduates over the next decade.

Seeking to highlight the benefits of math and science education, Mr. Obama hosted a White House science fair earlier Tuesday, featuring projects designed by more than 100 students from across the country. The projects included a robot that helps senior citizens connect with their families via Skype and a portable disaster relief shelter that could be used to house people who have been displaced from their homes.

NORTH CAROLINA

Myrick won’t seek re-election to House

CHARLOTTE — Rep. Sue Wilkins Myrick of Charlotte says she won’t run again for re-election to North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

The Republican made the announcement Tuesday through social media and her campaign site with a brief video. She said her decision followed thoughtful discussion with her family and she plans to serve out her ninth two-year term through the end of the year.

The 70-year-old Ms. Myrick is a former Charlotte mayor and past U.S. Senate candidate who joined Congress in a Republican sweep during the 1994 elections. She has been in a relatively safe Republican district that includes Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city.

Her announcement comes less than a week before candidate filing is to begin.

HOUSE

Lawmakers want to sell government property

The House has passed a bill that would set up a commission to help decide which unused buildings the government can dispose of.

The commission would make recommendations to the president and Congress on disposing of some of the federal government’s thousands of unneeded buildings. Congress would have to vote either to approve or disapprove the commission’s choices.

Supporters cited estimates that the commission could generate $15 billion in revenue from property sales over a decade.

The Obama administration in May proposed a similar plan to reduce the federal property inventory. The White House said it appreciated the House bill but voiced some objections, particularly over environmental considerations.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama congratulates Giants on victory

President Obama has offered his personal congratulations to the New York Giants on their Super Bowl victory.

The White House says Obama called Giants coach Tom Coughlin on Tuesday morning. The White House says the president told Coughlin that his team’s victory Sunday was a testament to his leadership.

Mr. Obama told Coughlin he looks forward to welcoming the Giants to the White House, where major sports champions are traditionally honored with a ceremony.

The Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 on Sunday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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