Sen. Ben Nelson announces retirement (VIDEO)


Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska plans to announce his retirement on Tuesday.


Alex Wong

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced today in a video message that he won't run for re-election next year. This came after earlier reports from Politico that he would announce his retirement on Tuesday.

"There is much more that needs to be done to keep America strong. 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 re-election," said Nelson in the video message. "Simply put, it is time to move on."

Nelson, 70, has a record of being a conservative Democrat and sometimes voted against his party. He had been considered a top target of Republicans heading into the 2012 elections, CNN reported. In 2009, when the caucus held 60 seats, his vote was usually the toughest to secure for the party.

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Nelson’s position on health care has infuriated Democrats. He has opposed the bill’s public option and has requested an exemption on abortion coverage, Fox News reported.

Still, Nelson’s retirement will make it tougher for Democrats to hold onto the Senate. In next year’s election the party has to defend 23 seats, unlike Republicans who only have to hold on to 10, the Associated Press reported.

The Nebraska senator was elected in 2000, and was likely going to face a tough battle to keep his seat. His seat is rated one of eight “tossup” Senate races. Of those only two are held by Republicans, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, USA Today reported.

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