FLASH: Kerrey NOT running for Senate

Steve Lathrop

The AP is reporting that former Senator Bob Kerrey will NOT run for the Nebraska U.S. Senate seat being vacated by current Democrat Ben Nelson.

With Kerrey’s exit the Democrat’s bench is practically empty. Many suspect that state Senator Steve Lathrop will jump in, though he has just a week to make that decision.

**UPDATE 9:45am**

The LJS’s Don Walton reports that Democrat former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak has taken her name OUT of the running for the Senate nomination.

Chuck Hassebrook

And the OWH’s Robynn Tysver tweets that Steve Lathrop is indeed mulling things over…again. You know, unless some other big name tries to muscle him out again.

Tysver also tweets that Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook is “very interested“, though we would guess that Lathrop get’s right of first refusal. And as an elected official, Hassebrook too would have to decide by February


Chuck Hassebrook (@Vote4Chuck) cryptically Tweets: #NESEN.
(H/T @NTVsSteveWhite.)


As things move fast and furiously (that’s upcoming title of the 5th movie), we are getting interesting info from the Dem side.

We hear that Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook is IN, and that Steve Lathrop is still mulling things over.

Why would there be a disconnect here? Well, you may remember that the big chautauqua last month at Senator Ben Nelson’s Omaha office included Lathrop and Kim Robak…but Hassebrook was no where to be seen. At that point, several sources said Lathrop had decided it was a go — before Bob Kerrey’s giant head came into view.

Has Hassebrook been aced out of the conversation? Does anyone on the Dem side care what he thinks? (Was he conferenced in?)

The Dems may be as confident as the GOP is that the winner of the GOP primary will take it all in November. While you could call that “overconfidence”, you could also call it “reading the polls”.

So would Lathrop really gain by being a big loser to the GOP nominee — for his planned 2014 run for Governor? Maybe not. You could argue probably not. (There is an argument that it would increase his name ID, but maybe that’s not so strong.) Yet Deena Winter at Watchdog is tweeting that Lathrop is still mulling it over seriously.

So is it Hassebrook? He has a week to decide.
Could Lathrop be in as well? Also a week.
Would they BOTH get in — just to drum up interest in the final nominee?
It’s possible, maybe.

Probable? Meh.
So who is in?


In the mean time, here is the latest TV spot from GOP Senate frontruner, Attorney General Jon Bruning:

We are now going to make the assumption that Governor Dave Heineman will NOT run.

The battle for this seat is now in the GOP primary. Chaos shall begin…now.


Updates to this post coming…


  1. Solid ad says:

    What a solid ad for the Bruning campaign. I love the movement of the goal posts in the back ground. The ad is so true to what the Obama admin is doing to our country.

  2. RWP says:

    Kerrey’s wife Sarah Paley, confronted by taunts that Governor Heineman owns Bob Kerrey, said ‘Bob can’t do everything himself. The NDP dropped the ball’.

  3. Kerry for NYC Mayor says:

    Contrary to popular belief, Heineman will now receive MORE pressure to run since it is now his seat for the taking. Republicans on the national level DO NOT want to run another weak Senate candidate and also realize that Robak could still cause problems. Heineman is not only the best candidate in their eyes, but also the most sustainable to hold the seat. Moreover, his campaign would require a lot less cash which could be better used in more contested races.

  4. Winner winner chicken dinner says:

    Bruning looks pretty relaxed in that ad and the message is pitch perfect for a GOP primary. I’m predicting a blowout. You heard it here first.

  5. RWP says:

    I had a run in with Hassebrook when the chaired the Regents. He totally ignored open-meeting laws and rammed through a resolution, without advance notice, opposing the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative. We got Jon Bruning involved, and he forced Hassebrook to revote on the motion, as well as permanently change Regents policies to comply with the actual law.

    Hassebrook was incredibly arrogant and testy about the whole thing.

  6. Looks like its Bruning says:

    Bruning’s going to run away with this thing like the ’95 Huskers. Stenberg should cut his loses (and there are many) and get out of the race.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bruning will win the race in a landslide if he defines Don Stenberg early and often. All these positive tv ads are nice, and Bruning’s football ad is WAY better than the DeMint PAC ad for Don, but they will be forgotten by the end of the race. If Bruning can discredit Stenberg early, then this race is over and Demint will spend his money in other races.

  8. Anonymous says:

    IF RWP is anti Hassebrook he must be a great guy. And for the real record the stuff RWP said earlier about him is 100% false. Checking with people who were at the meeting is a really good thing to do. You get a true story.

  9. onevoterNE says:

    As a Democrat I can’t help but think, first Ben Nelson and now Bob Kerrey have screwed us again. They never helped the Democratic Party they only cared for their own political fortune. While I appreciate their service, they have left us Nebraska Democrats with a week to find a candidate and organize a statewide Senate campaign, not cool.

    Since we already face long odds, let’s hope the Democrats put up a REAL progressive this time. I would like to see St Senator Amanda McGill or Heath Mello, or former Mayor Don Wesley run to present a true liberal, progressive alternative to the ultra conservative pro-lifer, white guys club , rich elitist, hateful zealots club called the Republican party. I also would like to see Mike Boyle take a shot at it, sure he probably would lose by double digits but it would be fun and he could show a different point of view.

    Viva Democrats!

  10. Joe Schmo says:

    There is no “right of first refusal” I’m afraid between Lathrop & Hassebrook, and as far as the Republican momentum goes, it’s an uphill climb regardless for a Dem. BUT…..just because Hassebrook isn’t from Omaha and just because he doesn’t work at the Capitol Building every day, doesn’t mean he isn’t the Dems best option (and first option, post-Kerrey). This is just an example of Omaha/Capitol centric media in this state.

    Still waiting for blogs and media to start detailing Hassebrook’s advocacy work for rural communities, Nebraska farming families and small business owners while with the Center for Rural Affairs. Instead of just calling him “Regent member….”. The guy is in Lincoln and D.C. every week fighting for dying rural communities and even has moderate Republican support all over rural pockets of Nebraska.

    As much as squashing Republican momentum will be admittedly difficult for any Dem candidate in today’s climate, I do feel that Hassebrook is a better candidate than Kerrey, Lathrop & Robak. And the state Dem party has seriously dropped the ball in not promoting him more. Who says you HAVE to be from Omaha, the Capitol Building…..or New York to be a strong candidate??

  11. SoWhat??? says:

    Mike Boyle??? The guy and his wife have been feeding from the public trough for decades. They are both as phony as a $3 bill…crooked and corrupt…with long histories of political dirty tricks and questionable associations. On second thought, he’d be the perfect Dem senate candidate.

  12. Karl Rove says:

    To celebrate this uncharacticstically wise decision by Cosmic Bob, I’d like to invite the Kerreys to a big dinner at Grandmother’s.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Schmo: Touting the Center for Rural Affairs connection should do Hassebrook in pretty quickly. Really? In Nebraska where the Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Cattlemen rule? Good luck. The only people clinging on the CRA’s every word are the Janester and Randy types.

  14. Lil Mac says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Heineman forced by law to declare himself running before Robak, Kerrey or Nelson are legally past their expiration dates for the same? Sure these Democrats say they aren’t running but Heineman said the same thing. The difference is, he is a sitting governor with a political future to lose. And his shorter deadline would mean he’d be the first to flip, thus branding him the hypocrite who supposedly forces a noble Democrat to “reluctantly” run against him. In such a senario, his “sure thing” could instantly transform into a bloody mud-fest with a substantial Democrat who has nothing to lose. So, that leaves JB and his warchest?

  15. Lil Mac,
    Not real sure what you’re getting at, but here are the rules:
    According to Neb.Rev.Stat. 32-606:
    If you’re an incumbent of ANY elected office, and you want to run for Senate, you have to file by February 15th. Everyone else has until March 1st.
    So, if Heineman wants to run, he has to declare by 2/15. If he does NOT declare, Kerrey still has the opportunity to go, “Psyche!” and file by March 1st.
    But we would call that “unlikely”.
    So, in the mean time you have either Bruning, Stenberg or Fischer (likely) against either Lathrop or Hassebrook.
    Lathrop and Hassebrook have to decide by February 15th as well.
    Those are the rules. Feel free to run with the rest.

  16. Joe Schmo says:

    Anonymous, was simply pointing out that Hassebrook probably has a bigger name in the state of Nebraska than Lathrop and Robak combined. But people who follow the Capitol beat (probably 5% of all Nebraskans, but easily 100% of Leavenworth Street forum followers) don’t know that because they only know the State Capitol players and anyone from Omaha.

    This is a statewide race and the Dems would certainly need an upset, but if the Dem State Party powers that be are shortsighted enough to shove Hassebrook aside in favor of Lathrop, simply due to his Capitol/Omaha presence, then they might be making another big mistake (mistake #1: doting on Kerrey).

  17. Kortezzi says:

    Joe Schmo – – that isn’t quite right.
    NE Dems Mistake # 1 was begging Ben Nelson to run again;
    NE Dems Mistake # 2 was doting on Kerrey; and
    NE Dems Mistake # 3 is undoubtedly just around the corner…

  18. Demo Primary? says:

    Check the map of where registered Democrats are in the state. Omaha Democrats alone as a block beat all other Democratic votes statewide combined. Chuck is great, but won’t win a primary against an Omahan.

  19. Voter who wants choices says:

    Re: onevoterNe: “Boyle taking a shot at it”. Do you really mean to take a shot of irish whiskey? It appears you have his shots confused. Of course he’s already filed for another public feeding for his position. With all the R’s wanting public office, anyone going to challenge him and move him out to pasture where he should feed?

  20. Anonymous says:

    This ad was very well put together. I love how Bruning is focusing on the issues and not focusing on attacking Stenberg. At this point it really seems like the Democrats are in a tough spot, and it would probably be fairly safe to say the winner of the Republican Primary will most likely be our next Senator. Probably will be and should be Bruning I’m getting sick of Stenberg’s desperate attempts to bring him down instead of focusing on winning the primary through proving he’s the better candidate…probably because he’s not and Nebraskans know it

  21. RWP says:

    Unfortunately for Anonymous Coward at 12:26, you don’t have to have been present at either meeting. The minutes, which are available online, clearly show they voted on the resolution at the January 2008 meeting, and then had to revote on it in the March meeting.

    Hassebrook tried to pretend the subject had occurred ‘spontaneously’ at the January meeting. Unfortunately, we did an FOIA which discovered there had been a series of emails between the Regents planning the resolution prior to the January meeting. The press were also informed in advance that there would be a vote on it. So Chuck was, ahem, disingenuous.

    AG Bruning, by the way, told them they had to put everything, even ceremonial motions, on the agenda, and ever since, they’ve done that, starting June 2008. It’s just a shame that a public official like Hassebrook has to be forced, kicking and screaming, to obey the law.

    By the way, the Regents voted 9:0 for a position later rejected 42:58 by Nebraska’s voters…just a little out of touch over there in Varner Hall.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t Jon tell his story of his own accomplishments as a leader? He has them doesn’t he? Give the voters some meat in how Bruning has the experience in cutting deficits and working within a budget. To throw out more of the same doesn’t cut through the clutter to distinguish himself as a one who stands apart other than raising the most campaign funds. Give solid and easy to remember reasons to believe and trust Bruning as a proven leader. What makes Bruning so great?
    The ad doesn’t tell anyone anything that couldn’t already be assumed. He thinks Obama blew it.

  23. Joe Schmo says:

    Best line: He has them doesn’t he?? HA HA HA HA HA

    Bruning has no ideas. He just has a Republican-majority state in a presidential election year where people are upset with the current Democratic Presidential Administration. Oh and lots of money because he’s been campaigning for, well, since the minute he was elected to that last office he does nothing for.

    That’s enough to win an election. Not enough to make Bruning respectable. That takes a lot more.

  24. Joe Schmo says:

    Demo Primary? In no universe will Lathrop and Hassebrook face off. Not because it wouldn’t be positive name recognition for the party, but because the Dems can’t risk handing over both of their current seats/offices. Heineman would appoint a lackey to Lathrop’s spot in the Legislature and a conservative, anti-stem cell conservative would most likely take over Hassebrook’s currently unchallenged spot on the Board of Regents.

    When you’re outnumbered the way the Dems are in the legislature and holding onto the 4-4 research stalemate at University, you can’t lose both to the other side. Just the way it is.

  25. RWP says:

    Joe Schmo: Stem cells are so two years ago. And 90% of the time the Regents rubber stamp what UNL Central Admin. feeds them. If the NDP think Hassebrrok is some kind of asset, they’re in pretty bad shape.

  26. Wilson says:

    I was very verbal in NOT being part of this cheesy commercial. Isn’t there a way I can file a petition to be blurred out from Mr. Bruning’s commercial? I am so embarrassed. hugs and kisses, Wilson

  27. Schmo-neezy says:

    Good to see Gerard spending his waking minutes in front of a computer screen instead of killing innocent mountain lions.

    …..and good commercial?? Come on, JB isn’t even “high pointing” the football correctly. Reminds me of Donaghy in the commercial with the coffee mugs.

  28. Schmo-neezy says:

    Wait, I think Gerard and Floridians (or is it “Flo-ridas”??) call mountain lions (or pumas or cougars if that helps you), “panthers”. Go home to your mommy Gerard.

  29. RWP says:

    Great, we’ve attracted another smoker of da herb. Schmo, baby, I know it all makes perfect sense after a few tokes, but it looks pretty silly the next day. Better to just grab another bag of Doritos.

  30. Some Thoughts says:

    Nice to see a positive ad for the primary from Bruning. There’s no point having the primary candidates tear each other apart, like we see happening in the Presidential primary race.

    I totally disagree with the characterization of Chuck Hassebrook above, which is based on one encounter that seems to have been interpreted in the most negative possible light. People who have worked with him for years, regardless of political affiliation, can tell you he’s a super nice guy and very easy to work with. I doubt I’d agree with many of his specific policies, but at least I’d feel good about the man himself. I don’t think he has a chance of winning, so it’s not much concern to me who actually runs in that slot.

  31. Some Thoughts says:

    Oh my goodness! I actually looked it up. RWP, are you Gerard Harbison? If so, how can you characterize what happened this way? The Regents passed a resolution that indicated their opinion on an issue, which bothered you because it was a cause dear to your heart and the group you supported didn’t get to say anything at the meeting. So what happened? They decided to re-do the whole thing at a subsequent meeting, precisely so that you could have a say, which you did. Yet you’re complaining about that now? They had no obligation to put a resolution about their opinions on the agenda. The fact that they were willing to take it up again, and give you your 5 minutes of glory, only shows that Hassebrook actually is a nice guy. I might add, I think everything you said at that meeting was right, but that’s not the point. Come on, be a bigger man.

  32. Anonymous says:

    @Some Thoughts, that is how RWP operates. He’s an intelligent guy, and has lots of practice plying his wares on pliable college students. At first glance it appears that he knows what he’s talking about. Even had me doubting something I had previously posted. However it soon became clear that he was the one shoveling the bs. As he is a professor at a state supported university, and likes to post during the work day, it further irks me that my tax dollars are paying him to post here.

  33. RWP says:

    Some Thoughts:

    They didn’t reconsider the resolution from the goodness of their hearts. They refused to do so initially. Then we pointed out they had violated Nebraska Open Meetings Law by not putting the resolution on the agenda in advance. Then they tried to negotiate with us offering to let us address the Regents, without reconsidering the resolution. We pointed out we were perfectly entitled to do that anyway, and so they’d offered us nothing. It was when we were refused that we wrote to the AG, who told them they indeed had violated open meetings law, and forced them to re-vote. So, yes, they did have an obligation to put it on the agenda, though Hassebrook tried to pretend they didn’t.

    You have a peculiar definition of ‘nice guy’, and a curious way of looking at government. You seem to think it’s gracious of a representative body to hear out the peons. No. We gave up being subjects in 1776. Nebraska law says that when a public body votes on a matter, it has to give proper notice to the citizens of Nebraska. Of course, they completely ignored our input, and did what the university told them to do, as they almost always do. Needless to say, NCRI was passed anyway, and the dire predictions JB Milliken made about its ill effects turned out to be false.

    Back in the nineties they voted on a contract for system email, against the advice of several of the faculty who actually knew something about email, after the President of the university told them it was intolerable that faculty could interfere with a University contract. It cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and saddled us with a crappy email system for 15 years.

  34. RWP says:

    Sigh, yet another anonymous ad hominem from some spineless imbecile without the cojones to put his miserable little name on his post. And he pretends he actually pay taxes!

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