Ever since former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey expressed interest in making a comeback, there has been speculation in the Senate halls as to whether he cut a deal of some kind with Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid.
Kerrey shed a sliver of light on the matter in an interview published Thursday by the Omaha World-Herald. Kerrey told the paper he received some assurances but no guarantees from the Senate leader from Nevada.
"The most important one was that when it came time to organize the Senate, he would respect my previous 12 years of previous service in the Senate, with no specific promise about seniority," Kerrey said.
Whether that might mean Kerrey gets preference over other Democrats when it comes to committee assignments or other perks remained unclear. He said Reid could not make any guarantees.
"No matter what promises get made, the Senate organizes itself in November, and that's when these decisions get made. But I'm relatively confident that if the voters choose me, I'm going to be in a position as a result to do more than I might have been able to do otherwise," Kerrey told Joe Morton, the paper's Washington correspondent.
According to the paper, "Kerrey said his talks with Reid were typical for any politician weighing a run for office." Kerrey said he told Reid he might need help raising money but Reid did not commit.
Kerrey's candidacy — he is a former Nebraska governor as well as a former two-term senator — gives Democrats a better chance of replacing retiring Sen. Ben Nelson with another Dem, and could help Reid retain his post as Senate leader.
Republicans have been working to raise questions about Kerrey's candidacy. Nebraska GOP Sen. Mike Johanns told the Omaha paper that talk of a Kerrey-Reid deal will probably hurt Kerrey in the election, and that the Nevadan might expect something in return.
"It's a two-way street," Johanns said.