In Nebraska Senate race, Democrat Kerrey picks up GOP endorsement

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey on July 28, 2010 in New York City.
Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is set to endorse Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former two-term senator who's running to serve once again in the Senate, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

The endorsement comes at a critical time for Kerrey, who, according to a new poll by the World-Herald, shows him closing a 10-point gap against Republican challenger Deb Fischer down to three points.

The race is to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who has served two terms in the Senate and was often the source of consternation among fellow Democrats for his moderate-to-conservative stances. Nelson did, however, vote for President Obama's health care law - not the most popular political move in red state Nebraska.

The endorsement of Kerrey from Hagel, who was considered a moderate Republican by the time he retired from the Senate in 2009, could pave the way for other moderate Republicans, independents or undecided voters in Nebraska to take a second look at Kerrey.

Hagel and Kerrey have a long-standing working relationship as their terms overlapped between 1997 and 2001. Hagel is now a professor at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., sits on the board of several corporations and serves on Mr. Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board.

For her part, Kerrey's Republican challenger Fischer is holding an event with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Friday, who endorsed her earlier this week. Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns and Gov. Dave Heineman, both Republicans, are also expected to attend that event.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for