Kerrey Explains Not Running, Sees “Tough” Task for Dems in Nebraska

Bob Kerrey thinks boosting the Democrats’ chances of increasing their Senate majority is not a good enough reason for him to leave his job and run for office.

Talking about his decision, made public today, not to seek the Nebraska Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican senator Chuck Hagel, Kerrey told me a few minutes ago that he was less worried about the Democratic majority than he was about the country as a whole.

"What I feel responsibility for is the possibility of putting the country in danger," Kerrey said. "I do worry about the direction and don’t like the direction the country is going in a number of areas."

"The idea of increasing the Democratic majority is not a motivator for me," he said. " Because it is me personally. I cannot run just to increase the number. If that’s all that’s motivating, that’s a very, very small factor."

"Look, I helped Chuck Schumer increase the number in the last cycle and I’ll help him in this cycle."

Schumer, who chairs the DSCC, tried very hard to enlist Kerrey, the New School president said.

"Chuck is a very good friend,” he said. “I was chairman of the DSCC when he ran against Al D’Amato. So we’re very good friends and he wanted me to run. In part because that’s a measure of his success, but because he wanted to serve with me. It was quite nice. He’s not altogether happy I said no but he understands why.

"I let him know last week," said Kerrey. "I mean I’ve been ‘no’ all along. On the other hand, I came very close to saying yes. And he was hopeful I would say yes."

Kerry said the reason he didn’t run was "A combination of things," mainly his family obligations and what he said he feels is his unfinished work in continuing to expand the New School.

As for Nebraska, he sees a tough race for whoever the Democratic candidate ends up being.

"It’s a tough state to win for a Democrat," said Kerrey. "It is tougher I would say at the margin than when I ran three previous times. I had an uphill fight when I first ran, maybe an easier time the second time, a tough time, as almost every Democrat did in 1994. The voter registration is 51 – 38 Republican, so it’s a tough state to win."

He says with him out of the running, the most likely candidate is Omaha mayor Mike Fahey.