Nelson's unexpected decision leaves Nebraska's Democratic party, barely functional under the best of circumstances, flatfooted and scrambling. There are reflexive rumors of talking former Senator Bob Kerrey down from the political shelf, but he has said nothing.
In his farewell, Nelson pointedly noted: "Public service is a place for public service — not personal profit." Gosh, AKSARBENT wonders aloud, "To whom might Nelson be referring?"
Nelson specifically denied that GOP attack ads (most of which have come courtesy of Karl Rove's Citizen's United-enabled slush fund, American Crossroads and David Koch's Astroturf Potemkin Village, Americans for Prosperity) were responsible. If anything he said, they motivated him to run again.
President Obama's reaction to Nelson's retirement:
I want to thank Senator Nelson for his years of service representing the people of Nebraska, first as Governor and then for more than a decade in the United States Senate. Over the course of his career, Ben’s commitment to working with both Democrats and Republicans across a broad range of issues is a trait far too often overlooked in today’s politics. Michelle and I commend Ben for his service, and wish him and his family well in the future.