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If Bob Kerrey runs for Senate, can he save the majority for Democrats?

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) of Nebraska has until Thursday to decide whether to try for his old seat, being vacated by Sen. Ben Nelson. Even if he does, Nebraska has shifted to the right since he last served.

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In this June 2004 file photo, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey speaks in Washington. More than a decade after he left Nebraska for New York City, Kerrey has until Thursday to decide whether to try for his old Senate seat.

Evan Vucci/AP/File

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Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) of Nebraska has until Thursday to decide whether to mount an 11th-hour bid run to regain the US Senate seat he once held – a move that many analysts believe would give Democrats their best shot at holding onto that seat and their Senate majority in a tough campaign season.

Famously unpredictable, Mr. Kerrey stunned Nebraskans when he opted not to run for a second term as governor in 1986. His decision to bow out of the US Senate after two terms in 2000 also came as a shocker.

Just three weeks ago, Kerrey said he would not run for the US Senate, citing family concerns. He also lives in New York City, raising doubts as to whether he would qualify for residency.

Still, even the rumor that the popular governor and two-term senator might enter the race has fired up the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans. Thursday is the filing deadline for candidates.

"To be sure, this isn’t the first time Kerrey has flirted with a return to public life after leaving the Senate many years ago,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a statement Monday afternoon. “In 2005, for example, he very publicly considered a run for New York City mayor saying, 'this is now my city….' ” 

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