Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to retire, Bob Kerrey to run?

Updated
 

NBC’s First Read has confirmed, per a high-ranking Democratic source, that Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) will NOT seek re-election in 2012.

The conservative Nelson, who often voted with Republicans “will be the least missed member of the Democratic caucus next year,” said that same high-ranking Democratic source.

While Nelson may have often voted with Republicans, his decision not to run comes as a blow to Democrats’ hopes of maintaining control of the Senate, unless Democrats find a top-notch recruit like former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), who is reportedly considering a run with Nelson’s seat open.

**UPDATE** from AP (3:27 p.m. EST):  Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson tells supporters he’ll retire: “Simply put: It is time to move on”

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to retire, Bob Kerrey to run?

Updated