Former United States Sen. Bob Kerrey acknowledges that his decision not to return to politics likely demoralizes Nebraska Democrats in the short-term, but he urges them not to give up on the race.
Kerrey tells Nebraska Radio Network it was a very difficult decision to make.
“It was very difficult. I wanted to do it,” Kerrey says. “I felt drawn to public services without, I think, an excessive amount of egotism that I could have brought something to the debate that was important.”
Kerrey says family considerations kept him from entering the race. He says that ultimately he had to answer the question of what the campaign and a possible six-year term in Washington do to his family.
“The answer to that question for me was that it was going to be more negative than positive. So, I chose no,” says Kerrey.
Sen. Ben Nelson forced the decision on Kerrey when he decided against running for a third term in the United States Senate. Nelson’s retirement from public office sent Democrats in Nebraska scrambling to hold on to a seat seen as critical to the party holding on to power in the United States Senate. The focus instantly turned to Kerrey, a former governor and senator.
Kerrey took the opportunity seriously, returning to Nebraska to meet with friends and advisers. He conducted a series of interviews with reporters before returning to New York and his work as President Emeritus of The New School in New York. Kerrey served as president of the school between 2001 and 2010. His candidacy seemed so imminent that conservative groups ran ads attacking Kerrey as an eastern liberal, out of touch with the state he left more than a decade ago.
Kerrey says his exit could open opportunity for new blood. Shortly after the news broke that Kerrey wouldn’t run, state Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha and University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons confirmed they would consider entering the Democratic primary. Former Lt. Governor Kim Robak says she will not enter the race.
The top Republicans in the race are Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg and state Senator Deb Fischer. Businessman Pat Flynn and truck driver Spencer Zimmerman are also Republican candidates for U.S. Senate.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:35]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Bob Kerrey about his decision not to run for US Senate [10:35]