Kerrey, who has been living in New York City for more than a decade, was believed by some to be the party's strongest potential candidate, the Omaha World Herald reported. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., plans to retire when his current term ends.
"I have given the decision of becoming a candidate for the U.S. Senate very serious thought and prayer. For many reasons I nearly said yes," Kerrey said in an e-mail. "In the end I choose to remain a private citizen. 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, a native of Nebraska, would have had to move back to the state and re-establish legal residence to run for the Senate. He now lives in Greenwich Village with his wife, Sarah Paley, and their 10-year-old son.
Three Democrats have said they were considering running for Nelson's seat, but were waiting for Kerrey's decision: former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak, state Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha and University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook. On the Republican side, state Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Treasurer Don Stenberg and state Sen. Deb Fischer are all announced candidates.