Reid's fingerprints are on Nebraska race


Former Sen. Bob Kerrey is thinking of making a comeback by running for the Senate again to represent Nebraska. His candidacy could give Democrats a fighting chance to hold onto the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson.

Analysts are seeing Sen. Harry Reid's fingerprints on Kerrey, as the Nevadan angles to keep the Senate in Democratic control, and himself in position to remain as majority leader.

Democrats, who are defending 23 Senate seats this year, are playing defense in most parts of the country. A Kerrey decision to run puts the Dems on offense in Nebraska.

Quoting 'knowledgeable Democratic sources," Roll Call reported today that Reid and Guy Cecil, who is executive director of the Democrats' Senate campaign arm, "have been instrumental in wooing Kerrey."

Roll Call said it was told that Reid may even try to convince Senate Democrats to allow Kerrey to return to the Senate with his seniority intact if he wins, a tricky deal that would require some other senators to give up their standing.

Kerrey served two Senate terms, from 1988 to 2000, then retired but said he wanted to keep the door open for a return to public office someday.

At his weekly meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Reid was asked if he was talking with fellow Democrats about any deal to grease Kerrey's return.

"There's a lot of speculation out there, number one, as to whether Bob's going to be running," Reid said. "And I've had, over the last several weeks, lots of conversations with Bob Kerrey, and none of those am I going to talk about here."

The National Journal reports today that "more than a dozen" Senate Democrats have called Kerrey to urge him to run, apparently at Reid's behest.

Reid received other good news on the political front later Tuesday when Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican, announced she was not going to run for re-election.

The departure of Snowe, a liberal Republican, gives Democrats a chance to compete in Maine and perhaps nab that seat.