Ben Nelson, 70 year old Nebraska Democrat “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,” Politico reports:
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.
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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.
Other vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) also face difficult – although winnable – reelection fights.
There will also be costly races in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, featuring Democratic incumbents Sherrod Brown, Bill Nelson and Bob Casey. President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is expected to spend heavily in those states, potentially giving a boost to Democratic incumbents.
Overall, 23 Democratic-controlled seats are up this cycle, while Republicans have to defend only 10. Senate Republicans need to only pick up for seats to grab control of the chamber.
And speaking of the Senate, Moe Lane wonders if the staff of Nelson’s fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg is “running scared,” as a way to explain how the 86-year old New Jersey senator “came out of the blue and nominated Sen. Schumer’s brother-in-law Kevin McNulty for a federal judgeship:”
Personally, my first guess would be that somebody in Lautenberg’s staff realized that they’re working for an 86 year old Senator in frail health, and that after November of 2012 there’s likely to be a sudden glut in the supply of Democratic Senate staffers for the job market. So best to shore that re-election now and hope the old guy lasts long enough for the economy to pick up again, right?
And speaking of running scared — or least certainly appearing that way — “White House’s Relations With Media Turn Nasty,” P.J. Salvatore reports at Big Journalism. Bringing new meaning to the World War II-era phrase, they’re either at your feet, or they’re at your throat.
Related: Ed Morrissey adds, “Nebraska went for John McCain in 2008 by 15 points and nearly 140,000 votes in a race that Obama won by seven points nationally. After ObamaCare and the betrayal of Nebraskans by supposedly conservative Democrat Ben Nelson, it’s very likely that it will take a long time for Nebraskans to trust a Democrat to be conservative and pro-life in Washington again.”
And Steve Green quips, “Claire McCaskill was last seen behind her sofa, muttering, ‘Please don’t let Obama come to Missouri. Please.'”