Bob Kerrey For Senate? Ex-Senator Exploring Run In 2012

01/06/2012 08:58 pm ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Former Nebraska governor and senator Bob Kerrey said Friday he's exploring a possible run for the U.S. Senate.

Kerrey, a Democrat, said he'll come to a decision quickly on whether to pursue a bid in 2012. The deadline to declare candidacy for the spot is March 1.

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, who currently holds the seat up for re-election this year, said last month he would not seek re-election. Kerrey said, at the very least he plans to spend more time in Nebraska.

Attempts to reach Kerrey by phone and email were unsuccessful on Friday.

The 68-year-old Kerrey represented the state in the U.S. Senate for 12 years until 2001.

Nelson, the lone Democrat in Nebraska's five-member congressional delegation, faced a tough re-election campaign against a large group of Republican challengers who have spent the past several months attacking his support for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and federal stimulus legislation.

Democrats have acknowledged the party will face a steep uphill battle to hold on to Nelson's seat, but pointed to a crowded GOP primary field with no obvious front-runner. The ticket includes Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg, state Sen. Deb Fischer, and investment adviser Pat Flynn.

Nelson first was elected to the Senate in 2000, defeating Republican contender Don Stenberg to replace the retired Kerrey.