In Nebraska, Senator Ben Nelson will not be seeking another term, with observers noting that his chances looked fairly slim at best. Rumors quickly began flying that, in order to hold on to the seat, the Democrats might want to go with somebody carrying a proven track record as a winner. The progressive community turned its lonely eyes to Bob Kerrey, previous holder of that same seat as well as being a former Governor of the state. This week we learned that, alas, it was simply not meant to be.

“I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer,” Kerrey said in an email announcing his decision. “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.”

Kerrey, who moved to New York City after giving up his seat in 2001, spent nearly a week in Nebraska last month to seek advice about whether to run in a state that has drifted ideologically away from him since he left.

Kerrey is citing family concerns as his reason, as he absolutely has every right to do. He’s already put in a lot of years and it would be hard to argue that he “owes it” to the party to come back and dive into this sort of exceedingly difficult battlefield at this point in his career. But one has to wonder if he might have looked upon it a bit more favorably is he felt there was a solid chance of winning.

This is looking like some good news for the GOP, who need a minimum of four net seats gained in the Senate to seize the majority next year. Nebraska seems to be sliding more and more toward the red side of purple, so expect to see a lot of time, effort and money dumped into this race in the months to come.