Omaha Public Radio News
1:59 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

UNO political scientist: Nelson decision an opportunity for new Democratic leadership

Omaha, NE – A UNO political scientist says Senator Ben Nelson's announcement is an opportunity for the state Democratic party to find new leaders.

Nelson announced Tuesday he won't seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. UNO political science professor Randy Adkins says he was surprised by Senator Nelson's announcement, given that the filing deadline for the 2012 race is three months away.

But Adkins says Nelson's decision doesn't necessarily guarantee a win for Republicans. "If the Democrats can find a candidate to nominate for this, perhaps even someone from the private sector, which they have done before, it could be very competitive and could possibly bring some of his or her own money in to the campaign, then I actually think it could end up being better for the Democrats." Adkins says additional Republican candidates may declare for the U.S. Senate as well.

Adkins believes the announcement will spark greater interest in the Nebraska primary. The filing deadline for the May 15th primary is March first. Senator Nelson's campaign committee had $3.1 million cash on hand as of September 30th.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Democratic Party chairman Vic Covalt says they're not focusing on one candidate following Senator Nelson's announcement. Covalt says they're focusing on party growth in 2012 and planning an April 14 caucus.