Acknowledging that his old colleague “faces a tough road,” Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has tapped the base of supporters he built during his 2004 presidential campaign to boost former senator Bob Kerrey’s bid to return to the Senate.
In an email fired off to supporters Thursday, Kerry solicited funds for Kerrey’s campaign to once again represent the red state of Nebraska.
“More than ever, at this make or break time in our history, the Senate needs leaders who are willing to step up and put love of country first, like Bob Kerrey,” Kerry says. “My friend and former colleague has shown a lot of guts and grit in running once again for the United States Senate from Nebraska.”
Kerrey, who retired from the Senate in 2001 after two terms, earlier this year announced that he would run to try to hold the seat for Democrats, currently held by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Nelson, perhaps the most conservative Democratic senator, is not running for re-election this year.
Nebraska state Rep. Deb Fischer this week won an upset victory for the Republican nomination to be the GOP Senate candidate, which gives her “a lot of momentum … right now,” Kerry says, seeking contributions of $25 or more to fill Kerrey’s coffers.
Kerrey faces a decidedly uphill climb to regain his old Senate seat. After retiring from the Senate, he left Nebraska behind entirely to live in New York City as a university president. Several years ago Kerrey even flirted with the idea of becoming a Democratic candidate for mayor of New York.
American Crossroads, the deep-pocketed GOP influence organization associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, has been running ads in the Cornhusker State attacking Kerrey for his time in the Big Apple. Kerrey responded by pointing out he still owns businesses in the state.
Like his friend with the sound-alike name, Kerrey also is decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, and lost part of a leg in that conflict.
“In 1996, Bob was one of a small minority of senators who stood with me in voting against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — and he was certainly the only senator from Nebraska who opposed it,” Kerry says of Kerrey. “And now Bob’s facing a candidate who, when she was asked, couldn’t name a single Democrat she would ever be willing to work with once in office. That’s not how we will ever solve America’s challenges.”
Although he took such liberal positions on matters such as DOMA, Kerrey took more-conservative stances on other issues, such as free trade and taxes.
Since few before recent days expected Fischer to win the nomination, there’s been no reported polling testing her in a head-to-head match-up with Kerrey. However, polls consistently showed him behind the other, better-known Republican contenders for the contest.
Furthermore, a poll released in March found Kerrey’s overall favorability had taken a nosedive.
Democrats this year are struggling to maintain their Senate majority while defending twice as many seats as the Republicans. A loss of just four seats would hand control to the GOP.