WASHINGTON (AP) — Call ‘em the comeback crew.
Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana and Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey served years in the Senate, bowed out because of a term-limits promise or the frustration of endless fundraising and then discovered they couldn’t quit the place.
Pleas from party leaders and the opportunity to revise and extend their legacies lured them back. Now in their second acts, at age 68 and 88, respectively, they could be joined by former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, who left Washington in January 2001.
Kerrey, who was Nebraska’s governor and two-term senator, faces an uphill fight in trying to win the seat that Democrat Ben Nelson is leaving at the end of the year. Nebraska is a strong Republican state — John McCain beat Barack Obama 57-42 percent in the 2008 presidential race — and outside groups already have labeled Kerrey a carpetbagger who spent the past decade as an academic in New York City. The decorated former Navy Seal remains undeterred about coming back to a fiercely divided Washington.
“Maybe Olympia Snowe is right: You’ve got terminal dysfunction and there’s nothing that can be done about it,” said Kerrey, referring to the moderate Maine GOP senator who just decided against another campaign.