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In reversal, ex-Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey to seek former seat

By Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — After days of parlor intrigue, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey has changed course and will now enter the race to recapture his old Senate seat, according to a Democratic source in the state.

Kerrey was widely considered to be a front-runner as Democrats seek to retain the seat with the retirement of Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson. But earlier this month, Kerrey told supporters he would decline to run, only to reverse course this week as accounts surfaced that he was in fact jumping into the race.

Gearing up for the contest, Kerrey has already been the subject of attack ads by the conservative American Crossroads, which aired a $30,000 radio campaign in January that sought to portray him as too liberal for the state and out of touch with ordinary Nebraskans. He has been living in New York City for the past decade after he left the Senate in 2001, and served as president of the New School until 2010.

His entrance is another boost to Democratic efforts to retain control of the Senate — coming one day after Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine announced she would not seek re-election, jolting the GOP establishment that is now scrambling to hold onto the seat.

The Nebraska seat is among the most vulnerable for Democrats this election cycle as Republicans seek to regain control of the Senate. Nelson was expected to face a difficult re-election, despite his ability to distance himself from his party as one of the chamber’s most conservative Democrats.

Kerrey is also a former governor and served on the 9-11 commission convened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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