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.
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