LINCOLN, Neb., Dec. 27 — Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced his retirement today. The 70-year-old Nelson said he is choosing not to seek a third term, which exposes a vulnerable Senate seat as Democrats attempt to maintain control of the chamber.
Nelson is a former governor of Nebraska who was first elected to the Senate in 2000. He served on the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he helped draft the 2008 Farm Bill.
“While I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also feel it’s time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation.”
“Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection. Simply put: It is time to move on,” he said.
Republicans need to gain four seats to take back the Senate in 2012 and Nelson’s empty seat is being heavily targeted.
Currently, 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and two Independents make up the Senate. Overall, 23 Democratic-controlled seats expire in next year’s election, while Republicans need to defend 10 seats.
Nelson’s full statement on his plans for 2012 is below:
“My Fellow Nebraskans:
I’ve had the honor of serving as your Governor and United States Senator. During this time we’ve accomplished a great deal.
As Governor I helped our state experience unprecedented economic growth, cut taxes and left state government with a surplus.
As your Senator, we’ve opened new markets for our agricultural and manufacturing products; expanded the use of ethanol; secured STRATCOM’s future; built new veterans’ clinics, a soon-to-be veterans’ hospital in Omaha, and research facilities at our universities; and kept taxes low.
There is much more that needs to be done to keep America strong. And while I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also feel it’s time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection. Simply put: It is time to move on.
I encourage those who will follow in my footsteps to look for common ground and to work together in bipartisan ways to do what’s best for the country, not just one political party.
Public office is a place for public service, not personal profit. It’s about promoting the common good, not the agenda of the radical right or the radical left. It’s about fairness for all, not privileges for the few. And, it’s about protecting the rights of individuals, even if it angers the majority. I hope and believe I have fulfilled these principles to the best of my ability.
I’ll be forever grateful to the citizens of Nebraska for the great honor to serve this great country and represent our great state. Thank you and God bless.”
For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com