Jim Jenkins' potential bid for U.S. Senate as an independent candidate may have ended before it began.
The rancher and restaurateur from Callaway, Neb., has learned he is prohibited from running as an independent for U.S. Senate under a state law passed last year.
The law prohibits potential candidates from changing their party registration in the same calendar year that they run for office. For example, a Democrat cannot change his or her party affiliation in 2012 and then run as a Republican the same year. The candidate must have changed party affiliation before Jan. 1.
Jenkins, 54, switched his registration from Democrat to Independent this week to mount a potential bid for U.S. Senate.
He said he was told by the Nebraska Secretary of State's office Friday that he would be ineligible to run as an independent.
Jenkins, who said he has grown "disgruntled" with both parties, had planned to spend the next three weeks gauging support for an independent bid. He had argued that both parties seemed more interested in scoring political points than working together to sold the nation's problems.
On Friday, Jenkins said he "felt bad" that he had talked to people about running for Senate, only to find out he could not.
Jenkins questioned whether the law was constitutional and said he may challenge it in court, after talking to an attorney.
"I just found out about it. I think it makes my point that we're trying to turn this system into a very uncompetitive, two-party system," said Jenkins.
Jenkins was one of several people considering Senate bids this month in the wake of U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson's announcement that he would retire.
Three Republicans are currently seeking the GOP nomination: Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Treasurer Don Stenberg and State Sen. Deb Fischer. In addition, several Democrats are considering getting into the race, including Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and U.S. senator.
Jenkins owns a ranch near Callaway. He is part-owner of Skeeter Barnes restaurants in Nebraska.
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