“Simply put, it is time to move on,” Nelson said in a video message announcing his decision. “I encourage those who will follow in my footsteps to look for common ground and to work together in bipartisan ways to do what’s best for the country, not just one political party.”
He became a target for opponents of the landmark bill because of what became known as the “Cornhusker Kickback” â€” a provision intended to secure his vote by boosting federal Medicaid funding to the state. That controversial provision was quickly repealed.
CrossroadsÂ GPS, a conservative advocacy group, launched a six-figure ad buy in Nebraska this month arguing that Nelson “sold out to Obama when it mattered most.”
Nelson is the seventh member of the Democratic caucus to announce his retirement. The party already faced an uphill climb in the 2012 congressional races, when it will have to defend 23 of the 33 seats up for reelection and has few clear opportunities to take Republican-held seats.
Nelson had served two terms as Nebraska’s governor before he was elected to the Senate in 2000. He was reelected in 2006, a strong year for Democrats nationally.
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