Chuck Hagel to Endorse Bob Kerrey for Senate, Campaign Aide Says

Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska senator trying to make a comeback for an open Senate seat in his home state, will be endorsed by Republican Chuck Hagel, one of the state’s former senators, a campaign aide said.

The endorsement will be announced today, said the aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. A new poll shows that the race between Kerrey and Republican Deb Fischer is tightening,

Kerrey, who left the Senate in 2001 and hasn’t been on the ballot in the state since 1994, will appear with Hagel at two news conferences to receive the endorsement, the aide said.

A former president of the New School in New York, Kerrey, 69, entered the Senate race after Democratic Senator Ben Nelson announced in December that he wouldn’t seek a third term. Kerrey had been trailing in the polls. A survey conducted by the Omaha World Herald and released on Oct. 28 shows Kerrey trails Republican Deb Fischer by three percentage points.

The Oct. 23-25 survey of 800 registered voters found that Fischer was supported by 49 percent of those questioned to Kerrey’s 46 percent. Seven percent were undecided in the poll, which had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Kerry trailed by 10 percentage points in a Sept. 17-20 poll conducted by the newspaper.

Kerrey, a former two-term Nebraska governor, served two terms in the Senate. He left the Senate to become president of the New School in New York.

First elected to the Senate in 1996, Hagel, 66, was re-elected in 2002 and opted not to seek a third term in 2008.

Fischer, a state senator, won the Republican primary for the nomination after being endorsed by Sarah Palin, the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee.

She has sought to cast Kerrey as an outsider who wants to return to Congress to help President Barack Obama push “higher taxes, more spending, more debt,’’ according to a recently released campaign ad. “Bob Kerrey returned from New York to take a Nebraska Senate seat to support Obama’s agenda,’’ the ad said.

The ad features a picture of Kerrey superimposed on a photo of New York’s Empire State Building.

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