Sen. Nelson: “It’s time to move on”

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December 27th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson announced Tuesday he will not seek a third term in the U.S. Senate.

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Senator Nelson announced his retirement in a video statement sent to reporters. Standing in front of a window in a homey-looking room, Nelson touted some achievements during his two terms as Governor of the state in the 1990s, and his two terms as U.S. Senator. But he added, while there’s “much more that needs to be done,” he’ll be stepping down from Capitol Hill.

“While I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also feel it’s time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation,” Nelson said. “Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection. Simply put: It is time to move on.”

Nelson, a Democrat, said he encourages those who follow in his footsteps to work to do what’s “best for the country, not just one political party.”

“Public office is a place for public service, not personal profit,” he said. “It’s about promoting the common good, not the agenda of the radical right or the radical left. It’s about fairness for all, not privileges for the few. And, it’s about protecting the rights of individuals, even if it angers the majority. I hope and believe I have fulfilled these principles to the best of my ability.”

Nelson was expected to face an uphill battle in the 2012 race. He came under fire in his home state for providing the critical 60th vote to pass President Obama’s healthcare overhaul law, and has reportedly spent over $1 million in advertising hoping to improve his image among Nebraska voters.

Nelson leaves a vulnerable seat open to Republicans. And Nebraska Democrats will have a tough task searching for a viable candidate to run in his stead. One possibility could be former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey. In an interview with Nebraska Watchdog earlier this month, Kerrey said it was “highly unlikely” that he would run, if Nelson did not, but that he “wouldn’t rule it out automatically.”

Three Republicans currently lead the race for the GOP nomination: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Senator Deb Fischer and State Treasurer Don Stenberg. Governor Dave Heineman has not closed the door to joining in too.

Senator Patty Murray, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued a statement following Nelson’s announcement. Murray said Democrats “remain confident” they will hold the majority in the Senate next year, adding Republicans have a divisive primary ahead, and that “provides an opportunity for Democrats to remain competitive.”

Below is a transcript of Sen. Nelson’s remarks, as provided to reporters.

My Fellow Nebraskans:

I’ve had the honor of serving as your Governor and United States Senator. During this time we’ve accomplished a great deal.

As Governor I helped our state experience unprecedented economic growth, cut taxes and left state government with a surplus.

As your Senator, we’ve opened new markets for our agricultural and manufacturing products; expanded the use of ethanol; secured STRATCOM’s future; built new veterans’ clinics, a soon-to-be veterans’ hospital in Omaha, and research facilities at our universities; and kept taxes low.

There is much more that needs to be done to keep America strong. And while I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also feel it’s time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection. Simply put: It is time to move on.

I encourage those who will follow in my footsteps to look for common ground and to work together in bipartisan ways to do what’s best for the country, not just one political party.

Public office is a place for public service, not personal profit. It’s about promoting the common good, not the agenda of the radical right or the radical left. It’s about fairness for all, not privileges for the few. And, it’s about protecting the rights of individuals, even if it angers the majority. I hope and believe I have fulfilled these principles to the best of my ability.

I’ll be forever grateful to the citizens of Nebraska for the great honor to serve this great country and represent our great state. Thank you and God bless.

One Response

  1. Jarrett says:

    stand with true conservatives like Jim DeMint in backing Don Stenberg at Facebook.com/StenbergforSenate

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