Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., is giving Democrats fits. The two-termer is the most vulnerable incumbent up for re-election next year, and he hasn't even committed to running for another term.
In an interview published today with the Lincoln Journal Star, Nelson sure sounds like he's leaning against running. "I'm not trying to drag this out," Nelson said. "There is no theater involved in this."
"It's more that I just don't want to be a candidate any longer than I need to be or (it's more difficult) to do the job I'm elected to do," he added.
Nelson will discuss his next steps with his family in the coming weeks, and he won't make his final decision until the Christmas holiday season, he told the paper.
National Democrats have already funneled more than $800,000 through the state Democratic Party and into early advertisements designed to set Nelson apart from unpopular incumbents in Washington. He said he's polled the race, but that he doesn't have to be certain of victory in order to run.
"I do not have to have assurance I would win," he told the paper. "I'm a risk-taker. That would not be a deciding factor by a wide margin."
Still, an incumbent who says publicly they don't want to be a candidate is cause for any party strategist to bash their head against a wall in frustration. It's worse for Democrats; there's virtually no party bench in Nebraska, and if Nelson decides to retire, he'll effectively hand the seat to the winner of the state Republican primary.