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Change of heart: Kerrey announces he will run for Senate in Nebraska


Reversing course, former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) announced today that he will, in fact, run for the open Senate seat in Nebraska. 

Sen. Ben Nelson (D) announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.

Nati Harnik / AP

Though Kerrey mentions his 'commitment' to Nebraska, Republicans will surely note that Kerrey, for the past decade, has lived in New York City, where he was president of The New School.

Here's Kerrey's statement:

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

Though Kerrey mentions his "commitment" to Nebraska, Republicans will surely note that Kerrey, for the past decade, has lived in New York City, where he was president of The New School.

It's welcome news for Democrats, a day after they got a big target in Maine because of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) announced she was not seeking reelection.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, at the ready with oppo research on Kerrey's record, dismissed Kerrey as a "liberal" who has lived in "Greenwich Village for so many years" and being "simply out-of-step with Nebraska."

"After making a backroom deal to get Nebraska’s senior senator to vote for ObamaCare, it appears Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid has made a deal with an even more liberal Democrat Bob Kerrey," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said. “As Nebraskans reacquaint themselves with Kerrey they will quickly recognize that living in Greenwich Village for so many years tends to change a person. Whether it’s his support for cap-and-trade, his advocacy for a government-run health care system or his desire to raise taxes on Nebraska small businesses, Bob Kerrey is a loyal supporter of the Obama agenda and he’s simply out-of-step with Nebraska.”

Three weeks ago, Kerrey had announced he would not run. He said then:

"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."

If President Obama wins reelection, Republicans need to win a net of four seats to take control of the Senate. If a Republican wins the presidency, the GOP needs to pick up three.

Republicans are favored to win in North Dakota and would have been heavily favored in Nebraska to takeover seats currently held by Democrats. But the entry of Kerrey makes the race competitive and -- at least -- will be someplace Democrats hope Republicans will now have to spend some money and reduce their firepower elsewhere.

There are several toss-up states, for example, where control will likely rest, particularly -- Montana (D-Tester), Missouri (D-McCaskill), Virginia (D-Open), Nevada (R-Open), Massachusetts (R-Brown).

The favorite to win the GOP primary in Nebraska is Attorney General Jon Bruning, but he 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.)