Updated Feb. 7, 4:20 p.m. ET
The announcement Tuesday by former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) that he will not run for his old seat once again, which is being vacated by retiring two-term Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, has left Democrats scrambling for a candidate in a very vulnerable seat with little time.
Democrats are mentioning two names for the seat: State Sen. Steve Lathrop, and University of Nebraska Board of Regents member Chuck Hassebrook.
Lathrop represents part of Omaha, and was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Hassebrook is serving his third six-year term on the Board of Regents, which is an elected office in the state, representing a district in the state’s rural northeastern region.
Hassebrook did confirm to TPM that he is “very seriously considering it,” and will make his decision soon — by the February 15 deadline.
Under Nebraska election law, there is actually a two-tiered system for filing deadlines. For those who currently hold any public office — which would include both of the Dems’ current prospective candidates — the filing deadline is February 15, just a week and a day from now. For non-officeholders, the deadline is March 1, three weeks and two days from now.
TPM asked DSCC spokesman Matt Canter, have they have had contingency plans in place for just this current scenario, and will he predict that they can do it?
“Yes,” Canter replied.
At the time he announced his retirement in late December, Nelson was already probably the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent going into 2012.
Holding this seat will likely be very difficult for Democrats, as the state voted 57%-42% for John McCain in 2008, and has not voted Democratic for president since the 1964 Lyndon Johnson landslide.
Late Update: Steve Lathrop confirmed to TPM that he is considering the race, with a decision depending on whether he would be able to put a campaign together, as well as family considerations.
“I’m giving it careful consideration. And because of the timeline I’m under, it’s going to be a decision i’m going to get to in a few days.”