Looks like Harry Reid and Obama’s charm offensive to keep Nelson from retiring ended in total failure.
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska will announce today that he is retiring after two terms, a serious blow to Democratic efforts to hold onto their majority in the chamber next November.
Nelson is scheduled to hold a press conference back home in Nebraska as early as today to make his decision official, said several Democratic insiders close to the leadership.
The 70-year-old Nelson was considered one of the most endangered Democratic incumbents this cycle. GOP-affiliated outside groups have already dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV ads bashing Nelson, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent over $1 million on their own ad blitz to bolster his image.
The White House and top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), had quietly mounted a pressure campaign to keep Nelson from retiring. Nelson has more than $3 million in his campaign war chest, and his approval rating solidified after falling over the last several years.
But with Nelson stepping down, the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is in serious doubt, although Democratic leaders believe they can still do so. Republicans are expected to pick up control of the Cornhusker State seat, although popular former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) has been talking to top Democrats about possibly running again.