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NE Sen Primary Getting Crowded

The Republican primary to replace Sen. Chuck Hagel will get a little more crowded this morning as former Congressman and former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub announces his plans during a two-day fly-around of the state. Daub will make stops at airports in Scottsbluff, North Platte, Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha today, and Beatrice, Hastings, Kearney, Columbus, Norfolk and South Sioux City tomorrow.

Daub put off his announcement over the weekend because of the death of his mother-in-law.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, also seeking the Republican nomination, has been running for months and raked in an impressive $730,000, outpacing Hagel himself and establishing Bruning as the early frontrunner. Financial analyst Pat Flynn and businessman Tony Raimondo have also declared their candidacies.

Both parties have yet to recruit their top candidates, though rumors that both former Senator Bob Kerrey (D) and former Governor and now-US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns (R) will run have been making the rounds. Kerrey, currently the president of the New School in New York, visited Washington last week to check in with DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer, who urged him to run, while Johanns is actively considering the race and reportedly wants to make a bid.

If Kerrey takes a pass on the race, Democrats would turn to Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey or 2006 House nominee Scott Kleeb. Johanns, meanwhile, would clear the field of a few Republican candidates and would begin the primary as the front-runner. Bruning, though, has vowed to stay in the race even in the face of a Johanns candidacy.

Nebraska is a solid Republican state in national elections, and though the state has a history of electing Republican members of the House, Hagel is the only Republican to have won a Senate seat since the late Sen. Carl Curtis, in 1972. Since Curtis' election, Cornhuskers elected Senators James Exon, Edward Zorinsky, Kerrey and Ben Nelson, all Democrats, along with Hagel.