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Former Gov. Bob Kerrey wins Democrat nomination for Nebraska Senate

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May 15, 2012: Democratic senate candidate Bob Kerrey campaigns in the Benson neighborhood of Omaha, Neb. (AP)

Bob Kerrey has easily won the Democratic nomination for his old job representing Nebraska in the U.S. Senate.

Democrats are counting on Kerrey to help them retain a seat viewed as one of the Republicans' best opportunities for a pickup, which would push them closer to a Senate majority. The seat is being vacated by Democrat Ben Nelson, who succeeded Kerrey 12 years ago but isn't seeking a third term.

The primary victory Tuesday by the former senator, governor and presidential candidate pushes Kerrey into a fall campaign where he will likely be considered the underdog in conservative Nebraska. However, he has raised more than $1.2 million since entering the race in February.

Political unknowns Larry Marvin, Steven Lustgarten and Sherman Yates lost to Kerrey in Tuesday's Democratic primary.