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Kerrey won't run for Senate, putting GOP closer to majority

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) announced this morning he would not seek the U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska -- all but ensuring another Republican takeover.

"I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer," Kerrey said in an email, per AP. "For many reasons I nearly said yes. In the end I choose to remain a private citizen. 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."

The decision came despite a recruiting push by national Democrats to try and get him to run after incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson announced he would not seek reelection.

If President Obama wins reelection, Republicans need to win a net of four seats to take back control of the Senate. If a Republican wins the presidency, the GOP needs to pick up three. With this Nebraska seat, it's the second where Republicans are heavily favored -- North Dakota being the other.

The favorite to win the GOP primary in Nebraska is Attorney General Jon Bruning, but faces a primary notably from state Treasurer Don Stenberg.

Kerrey served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2000 and ran for president in 1992. It's not the first time Kerrey's name has come up for a Nebraska Senate seat and he declined.

But he has lived in New York City for the past decade, serving as president of The New School, far from his Nebraska roots. (He's currently President Emeritus at The New School.)

Democrats still maintain they have a chance here, but it's unlikely.

“As we have seen in the last several weeks, Republicans are at each other’s throats in Nebraska," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "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."

Looking past Nebraska, Canter notes, "We continue to play offense this election cycle in Massachusetts, Nevada, Arizona, and Indiana, and remain fully confident that we will hold the majority next year.”

Some potential Democratic candidates in Nebraska include Omaha State Sen. Steve Lathrop and Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs and member of the Board of Regents.