LINCOLN — Nebraska Democrats will have a U.S. Senate candidate, possibly two.
Chuck Hassebrook, a University of Nebraska regent, confirmed in a brief telephone conversation that he will run. News of his campaign began to leak out Friday after Hassebrook called at least two of his supporters to inform them of his decision.
Hassebrook, who heads the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb., is expected to make his formal announcement Tuesday.
A second major Democrat is still pondering a bid. State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha said he expected to make a decision by Monday. Lathrop said he was still considering a run and questioned reports from anonymous sources that he was unlikely to run.
He said he was still seriously considering a bid. He also said Hassebrook’s decision would have no bearing on his own.
Democrats have a tight deadline after Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and U.S. senator, considered a run for some time and bowed out this week, leaving the party without a high-profile contender.
Under state law, Lathrop and Hassebrook have until Wednesday to get into the race. That’s the deadline for current officeholders to file.
Democrats have been looking for a candidate since Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson decided in late December not to seek a third term. Shortly after, Kerrey indicated he might run; but after several weeks, he announced Tuesday that he had decided against a run.
Any Democrat who steps into the race will have some ground to make up quickly. Two major Republican contenders — Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg — have been on the campaign trail for more than a year.
A third major candidate, State Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, entered the race in June.
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-- Robynn Tysver