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Nebraska's Nelson rebuffs GOP overtures

  |   Dec. 7, 2004 at 1:20 PM
OMAHA, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson turned down a Bush Cabinet post and rebuffed appeals from Republican leaders to switch parties, the Omaha World-Herald said Tuesday.

Nelson's future has been subject of renewed speculation ever since the president selected Nebraska Republican Gov. Mike Johanns, Nelson's most likely GOP opponent in 2006, as his nominee for U.S. Agriculture secretary.

Before settling on Johanns, however, the White House had reached out to Nelson to see if he was interested in the job. Nelson turned down the offer though he did say he might be interested in heading either the Commerce or Energy Department.

At roughly the same time, two GOP leaders approached the Nebraska Democrat about joining the Republican Party, according to a source who spoke Monday on the condition of anonymity. Nelson declined their entreaties and the conversations didn't go forward, the source said.

"Senator Nelson has no interest in switching parties, but it's always nice to be wanted," Nelson spokesman David DiMartino said. "The senator's planning a vigorous campaign in 2006 to tout his record promoting Nebraska values in the United States Senate."

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