WASHINGTON -- Former Nebraska senator and New York City college administrator Bob Kerrey completed a remarkable turnaround Wednesday, declaring he will run for the Democratic nomination for his old seat.
Just three weeks ago, Kerrey, who left the Senate to become president of the New School, said he would not get into the race, citing family concerns.
But he let it be known he had changed his mind Monday, and on Wednesday he made it official, releasing a low-key statement and declining to hold a press conference.
"This afternoon, I will file to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska," Kerrey said. "I came to realize that my previous decision was the easy one, not the right one. My commitment to serve Nebraska and America, and to be part of the debate about the challenges we face was too strong to dismiss. My family supports this decision 100 percent. I look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to do."
Kerrey acknowledged that candidates do not usually enter high-stakes contests by sending out a press release.
"Doing things the conventional way has never been my strong suit," Kerrey said.
Republicans were prepared for Kerrey's announcement and responded almost immediately, casting the change of heart as likely stemming from a deal Senate Democrats had struck to lure Kerrey in.
"After making a backroom deal to get Nebraska's senior senator to vote for ObamaCare, it appears Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid has made a deal with an even more liberal Democrat Bob Kerrey," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh in a statement.
"As Nebraskans reacquaint themselves with Kerrey they will quickly recognize that living in Greenwich Village for so many years tends to change a person," Walsh said. "Whether it's his support for cap-and-trade, his advocacy for a government-run health care system or his desire to raise taxes on Nebraska small businesses, Bob Kerrey is a loyal supporter of the Obama agenda and he's simply out-of-step with Nebraska."
Kerrey, who held the office from 1989 to 2001, will have to face fellow Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in a Democratic primary. Hassebrook resigned his post as a Regent at the University of Nebraska to run for the seat, after Kerrey initially said he would not.