Democrats search for viable candidate, after Kerrey says no

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February 7th, 2012

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Democrats are continuing to look for a Senate candidate after former Senator Bob Kerrey announced he will not join the race. Democrats are trying to hold onto a seat coveted by Republicans hoping to flip control of the US Senate in the 2012 election.

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Former Democratic Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey said in a statement that he nearly said yes to a new Senate bid, but in the end chose to stay out of the contest. “I have chosen what I believe is best for my family and me,” he said.

Former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey announced Tuesday he would not jump in the race for Sen. Ben Nelson's seat. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Kerrey was Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 before serving in the US Senate from ‘89 to 2001. After leaving Congress, he served as President of the New School University in New York City.

Kerrey’s choice to stay out of the race leaves the Democratic Party looking for another candidate to vie for the seat to be left open by retiring Democratic Senator Ben Nelson. Nebraska Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Lorenz said there is a group that has been waiting to see which way Kerrey would go.

“I think there’s certainly some strong names that are talked about,” Lorenz said. “Whether you’re talking about Senator Lathrop or Chuck Hassebrook, or I’m sure there are other names that will be talked about.”

In addition to State Senator Steve Lathrop of Omaha and Chuck Hassebrook, a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs, former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak had also been mentioned, but now says she will not run. Larry Marvin, an Air Force veteran from Fremont who got three percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in 2008, has already filed, as has Steven Lustgarten of Omaha, head of a video production company.

If Democrats hope to defend the party’s only position in Nebraska’s national delegation they will need to find a candidate who can stand up against the eventual nominee from a crowded Republican field. Republicans competing for the seat include State Treasurer Don Stenberg, Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, investment advisor Pat Flynn of Schuyler, and truck driver Spencer Zimmerman of Omaha.

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