Democratic Senator Ben Nelson (Nebraska) will reportedly announce that he is retiring from the Senate after two terms.* It’s a move Politico calls, “a serious blow to Democratic efforts to hold onto their majority in the chamber next November.”
According to Politico, the announcement could come as early as today during a press conference in Nelson’s home state. The outlet notes the decision may stem from the likelihood of a difficult upcoming election:
The 70-year-old Nelson was considered one of the most endangered Democratic incumbents this cycle. GOP-affiliated outside groups have already dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV ads bashing Nelson, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent over $1 million on their own ad blitz to bolster his image.
The White House and top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), had quietly mounted a pressure campaign to keep Nelson from retiring. Nelson has more than $3 million in his campaign war chest, and his approval rating solidified after falling over the last several years.
The decision by the conservative Democrat is a blow to his party’s chances for holding the Senate. Nebraska is a solidly Republican state in the presidential contest, and Nelson would have faced a tough race if he had been the Democratic nominee.
Nelson had previously not said whether he would run for reelection and recently said a decision would come as soon as “the end of” the holidays or even before then.
National Journal reports it’s official:
“While I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also feel it’s time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation,” Nelson said in a videotaped statement. “Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection. Simply put: It is time to move on.”
Despite Democratic hopes that former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey will run again for the seat, Democrats have described Nelson running again as the only way to hold the seat.
“There is no Plan B in Nebraska,” a Democratic leadership aide said this month.
Here’s the video of him announcing his plans: