Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson won’t seek reelection to the Senate next year
Sen. Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat who built an image as a moderating influence on his party, announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2012, improving Republican chances of winning the seat and taking control of the Senate in 2013.
While Nelson has often differed with his party’s position, he delivered the deciding vote for the health measure, Obama’s signature piece of legislation. Nelson negotiated some Nebraska-specific provisions into the law before he would agree to support it. Critics of the law have referred pejoratively to the deal that Nelson cut as the “Cornhusker Kickback.”
Early GOP advertising efforts have focused heavily on this arrangement, which included exempting his home state from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs.
That vote was expected to make Nelson’s reelection a tough proposition, but questions remain about whether the GOP would have been able to field a candidate strong enough to defeat Nelson.
The Nebraskan is the sixth Senate Democrat to announce his retirement. Two Republicans are retiring, along with independent and former Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.).