Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator, ended months of speculation Wednesday when he announced he would not enter the 2008 race for Nebraska's open seat in the U.S. Senate.
"I have decided I will not leave the New School to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska," he said in a statement. "For my family and me now is not the time for me."
Kerrey, who is the president of New School University in New York City, had been pegged as the key Democrat to face Mike Johanns, the former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel at the end of his term.
The potential showdown of the two political heavyweights was ranked by many as one of the top Senate races to watch this election.
But with Kerrey stepping out of the picture, Democrats are left with few options.
Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey is an option, but he's expressed no interest in the Senate race.
Scott Kleeb, a former candidate for the congressional seat in Nebraska's 3rd District, is another potential choice.
John Hibbing, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said Democrats were probably waiting on Kerrey's decision before moving on to considering other hopefuls.
Regardless of who the Democrats put forth, Hibbing said he expects a good race.
"Any time there is an open seat, I think both parties will put forth all the effort they can to win it," he said.
But in the end, Hibbing said he thinks Johanns would have overpowered Kerrey if he had joined the race.
Either way, Johanns has a battle within the Republican Party to go through before he can take on any Democratic candidate.
He must defeat state Attorney General Jon Bruning and Schuyler businessman Pat Flynn in the May 2008 GOP primary.
"I respect (Kerrey) and his service to the nation." Johanns said in a statement. "I wish Bob and his family nothing but the best."
Kerrey said he wants to stay on at the New School, where he has had success strengthening the institution, but more importantly he felt it was the wrong time for his family to move.
Sen. Ben Nelson said in a statement that Kerrey has made a career of "putting Nebraska and Nebraska families first," and his decision to not run "came down to doing what is right for his family."
"I respect that decision," Nelson said.
"The fact that I will remain as president of the New School does not mean I am retiring from the political debates," Kerrey said. "It simply means that for personal reasons now is not the time for me to re-enter politics as a candidate."
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© 2007 Daily Nebraskan via U-WIRE