"I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer. For many reasons I nearly said yes. In the end I choose to remain a private citizen. To those who urged me to do so, I am sorry, very sorry to have disappointed you. I hope you understand that I have chosen what I believe is best for my family and me."
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey says he won't seek the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Kerrey's announcement Tuesday shuts down hopes for a bid both parties called Democrats' best chance to hold on to the seat.
Kerrey himself had described it as a longshot.
The 1992 presidential candidate and former Nebraska governor moved to New York City after giving up his seat.
He spent nearly a week in Nebraska this month to seek advice about whether to run in a state that's drifted ideologically away from him since he left.
Nelson's decision not to seek another term this year came as a boon to Republicans, who must net four seats to retake the Senate.
And they've prioritized capturing the lone Democratic seat in Nebraska's congressional delegation.
Democrats are looking to others to fill the top of Nebraska's November election ballot.
Former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak, a top prospect when Nelson announced in December that he would not seek a third term, has said she's out, too.
Robak, who is now a lawyer and lobbyist in Lincoln, says she doesn't feel she would have enough time to raise the money for an effective campaign.
Two others, Omaha state Sen. Steve Lathrop and University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook, say they are considering a run.
But they don't have much time to decide: Feb. 15 is the filing deadline for officeholders.