Sen. Ben Nelson Retires

Democrats got some unwelcome election news on Tuesday, when Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced he would not seek re-election, giving Republicans a good opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in the 2012 elections.

"I want to thank Senator Nelson for his years of service representing the people of Nebraska," said President Obama in a written statement issued by the White House.

Mr. Obama also took time to note Nelsons's middle-of-the-road politics, which often earned him the political stink eye from fellow Democrats.

"Over the course of his career, Ben’s commitment to working with both Democrats and Republicans across a broad range of issues is a trait far too often overlooked in today’s politics," said the President.

But to most in both parties, Nelson's willingness to vote with Republicans was reason number one that many Democrats had been secretly wishing that Nelson would just stay in Omaha.

Nelson is certainly one of a dying breed, the Blue Dog Democrat, as those conservatives are almost extinct now in the Congress.

As of now, this seat would seem to favor Republicans; but a lot of that could well depend on the candidates who end up in the race.

Democrats were already trying to convince former Sen. Bob Kerrey to run again; it doesn't seem that long ago that I was covering Kerrey when he crossed swords with President Bill Clinton on budget policies.

Just as I'm dating myself a little with a mention of Bob Kerrey, it doesn't seem that long ago that the Congress had a big chunk of conservative Democrats and more liberal Republicans.

But both parties have done a very effective job of purging those types from their party ranks.

Chalk up another one with Nelson's departure.

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