Top Republican candidates for United States Senate say Bob Kerrey’s decision not to enter the race doesn’t change their strategy, that they had always considered the primary the prime race.
State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine dismisses Bob Kerrey’s decision as a factor in the race for US Senate.
“I wish Bob Kerrey and his family all the best,” Fischer says. “I don’t believe that really changes too much in the race.”
The one aspect that might change, according to Fischer, is the amount of money flowing into the race. Fischer says that with Kerrey in, the national Democratic Party and liberal special interest groups would have spent more freely in the Nebraska race, considered a key to Democrats maintaining control of the Senate in Washington.
Fischer believes the race now will be decided in the Republican primary, a belief state Treasurer Don Stenberg echoes.
“I think that Bob Kerrey’s decision not to run means that it’s very likely that the winner of the Republican primary this spring will be our next United States Senator,” according to Sternberg.
Stenberg concedes that Kerrey would have been a very strong candidate, since he is a former governor and former United States Senator. Stenberg says Kerrey is very hard to predict and he couldn’t be certain whether Kerrey would enter the race or not. He suspects Kerrey disappointed the Democratic Party.
Attorney General Jon Bruning says whether Kerrey got in or stayed out made little difference to his campaign and Kerrey’s decision to stay out doesn’t elevate the importance of the Republican primary.
“Oh, I think the Republican primary has always been important,” Bruning says. “I mean, this is a state that’s very Republican and so we’re focusing on the Republican primary and not worrying about the general election.”
Bruning suspects that both incumbent Democrat Ben Nelson and Kerrey sensed the mood of electorate had turned against the federal government’s spending habits, making the race a tough one for the Democratic Party to win.
Nelson announced in late December that he wouldn’t seek a third term in the United States Senate. Nebraska Democrats pinned their hopes on Kerrey, who had left the state ten years ago to become president of the New School in New York. Kerrey, 68, returned to the state to speak with Democrats about the run and did a series of interviews with reporters before ultimately deciding against making a return to politics.
Other Republicans in the race are businessman Pat Flynn and truck driver Spencer Zimmerman.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]