Sen. Ben Nelson said Wednesday that he has no plans to change parties, despite the drubbing Democrats took in Republican-leaning states and districts in Tuesday’s election.
“I’m certainly not planning to, and the answer I’ve been giving is ‘No,’” the Nebraska Democrat said in a phone interview. When asked, he also said Republicans have not approached him as a potential switcher.
Nelson, a moderate, is up for re-election in 2012, but said Tuesday’s results have not made him squeamish about running again.
“Last night hasn’t made me decide one thing or another,” he said Wednesday.
Nelson said he has “always run against the current, and there’s always a possibility of doing that again.”
Though he said he has not made up his mind “100 percent” on seeking another term, he noted that he has been raising campaign cash and building a campaign infrastructure.
Nelson said he remains focused on being an independent voice in the Senate who is not focused on the next election, but on job he has already been elected to do.
“We’ll just see how things are in 2012,” he said. “I’m not concerned at this point.”
He noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “was counted out” last year, when his approval ratings appeared to make it extremely difficult for him to win re-election this year. But the Nevada Democrat was able to best his GOP opponent, tea party favorite Sharron Angle, 50 percent to 45 percent in Tuesday’s unofficial results.
Like Reid, Nelson has come under fire at home for his support of the health care reform bill pushed by Democrats and President Barack Obama. In particular, Nelson was criticized at home for securing full federal funding of the state’s Medicaid costs before agreeing to vote for the bill. That deal was dubbed the “Cornhusker Kickback.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.