The Washington Times - February 7, 2012, 01:24PM

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey said Tuesday he won’t seek the Democratic nomination for Nebraska’s open Senate seat this year, a move that puts Republicans in the driver’s seat to win the coveted slot.

Mr. Kerrey was considered the Democrats’ best — and likely only — hope of hanging on to the seat after moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson announced in December he wouldn’t seek re-election in November. But Mr. Kerrey, who was a 1992 presidential candidate, acknowledged in recent weeks he was a long shot to win.


“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, the Associated Press reported. “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.”

Mr. Kerrey represented Nebraska in the Senate from 1989 to 2001 and was governor in Lincoln from 1983 to 1987. But he has lived in New York for more than a decade, leading Republicans to charge he was out of touch with Nebraska issues and values.

“In a last-ditch effort to keep this seat in President Obama’s hands, national Democrats put the full-court press on Bob Kerrey to run for the U.S. Senate, but even Kerrey knew that Obama’s reckless tax-and-spend agenda made it an uphill battle,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brian Walsh.

On the Republican side, state Attorney General Jon C. Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg — also a former Nebraska attorney general — and state Sen. Deb Fischer are vying for the Nebraska seat.

Democrats control 53 seats in the U.S. Senate, compared with the GOP’s 47.