From The Desk of Rob Jesmer, Executive Director
National Republican Senatorial Committee
Earlier today, the Washington Post broke the news that three weeks after New York City resident Bob Kerrey told Nebraskans that he was putting his family first and staying in his beloved Greenwich Village home, he has had a sudden change of heart and has decided to run for the U.S. Senate.
Given how important this seat is for the liberal Democrat Party’s chances to hold their Senate majority, one wonders what type of backroom deal-making might have taken place between Kerrey and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid in recent days.
Nebraskans remember full well the lengths Reid went to secure Ben Nelson’s vote for ObamaCare by authoring the infamous Cornhusker Kickback, so one can only imagine the conversations that took place with his power perch as Senate Majority Leader hanging in the balance. With Politico reporting that even top Nebraska Democrats were left unaware of Kerrey’s flip-flop it seems obvious that they weren’t privy to these backroom conversations.
To be sure, this isn’t the first time Kerrey has flirted with a return to public life after leaving the Senate many years ago. In 2005, for example, he very publicly considered a run for New York City Mayor saying “this is now my city” and expressing his anger with “the way New York City is being treated by Washington DC.”
According to the New York Times, Kerry was particularly angry that Republicans were advocating for a permanent repeal of the death tax, even though this same tax has hurt the ability of family farmers in Nebraska to pass on their livelihoods to the next generation.
Fast forward three more years to 2007 when Kerrey publicly considered running for retiring Senator Chuck Hagel’s seat, also at the urging of liberal Senate Democrat leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. That Kerrey would give serious consideration to the arm-twisting of Reid wasn’t a real surprise though considering he’s said publicly that “we need more Harry Reids” in Washington and that Reid deserves “a tremendous amount of credit” for taking on “the most difficult, the most emotional, and the most complicated issue in politics.”
And in Kerrey’s defense, he wasn’t entirely on the same page with Reid’s efforts on health care – as he made clear in a 2009 speech in New York City, Kerrey was angry that ObamaCare ultimately did not go further to include a full government takeover of our healthcare system. “It isn’t just because I live in Greenwich Village now – the longer I live here, the further to the left I get on health care,” Kerrey said at the time.
Now fast forward a few more years and it’s clear Bob Kerrey is still angry. Kerrey craves the limelight, and Harry Reid and liberal Democrats in Washington are still twisting his arm to run for the Senate.
From the NRSC’s perspective, we hope that today’s reports are true and that President Obama and Senator Harry Reid are successful in their arm-twisting efforts.
The NRSC finds itself in a rare area of agreement with Bob Kerrey when he told his hometown newspaper the New York Times recently, “[Nebraska] is a very Republican, very conservative state. I’m going to have much bigger problems if I run in Nebraska than whether or not I’ve been living there for the last 11 years.” And as he also told the Associated Press, “I would say if you bet … you’d have to bet against me. … I’ve been away 11 Years. I’m a Democrat. Obama’s going to top the ticket, and he’s probably going to be unpopular. So I’d say the odds are probably not good.”
A Kerrey Senate candidacy will present a very clear choice for Nebraskans this November between a tax-and-spend liberal whose only objection to President Obama’s big government agenda is that it hasn’t gone even further, and a common-sense, conservative Republican who believes we need to restore fiscal responsibility and pro-jobs policies in Washington.
By every standard, Bob Kerrey is unequivocally more liberal than Ben Nelson and on some issues he’s even more liberal than Harry Reid.
For example, in 2003 two-thirds of the Senate – including Harry Reid and Ben Nelson – voted to ban partial-birth abortion, but when Kerrey was in the Senate he supported this gruesome procedure. In fact, Kerrey is so fervently pro-abortion that he even opposes parental notification laws so that Nebraska teenagers could have full access to abortion clinics, even across state lines, while their parents are kept in the dark.
And while Ben Nelson has long claimed to support a balanced budget amendment and embraced the concept – at least rhetorically – that Washington should have to make the same tough decisions that every Nebraska family has to every month, Bob Kerrey has vehemently opposed it and claimed a balanced budget amendment is “impractical” and “bad economic policy.”
On cap-and-trade, an initiative that both Ben Nelson and the Nebraska Farm Bureau firmly oppose, Kerrey told students at his New York City university that he supports it and compared those who oppose cap-and-trade to the opponents of the Civil Rights Act. Then during Kerrey’s recent “listening tour” around Nebraska, he doubled-down on his position, even after acknowledging that it would kill thousands of jobs. His position on this controversial issue isn’t entirely surprising though considering Kerrey has been a board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a radical environmental group that has made passage of a federal cap-and-trade law one its top priorities.
When Kerrey officially jumps into this race, the liberal establishment in D.C. will undoubtedly jump for joy, and some Washington political prognosticators may even buy the Democrats’ spin that this is a “game-changer.” We also expect that with his pro-choice, pro-Obama, and pro-cap-and-trade credentials firmly intact, the liberal establishment will also rush to help pad Kerry’s campaign war chest and he will have the resources needed to put a significant campaign structure in place.
But the reality is that none of that will ultimately matter — Bob Kerrey isn’t just far more liberal than many of his friends in Washington – he also has far more serious electability problems than Ben Nelson ever did.
We look forward to Senator Kerrey’s candidacy.