Washington Dan Glickman will not challenge Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts next year, he announced Friday.
Glickman, the former U.S. agriculture secretary, had spent the past two months exploring the idea of a Senate campaign. His choice leaves Democrats without a strong contender for the race as Roberts seeks a second six-year term in the closely divided Senate.
He said the attacks on New York and Washington sealed his decision against a campaign.
"I do believe the country needs to pull together, with the threats that face us," Glickman said in an interview. "I didn't particularly relish a partisan race when we could be losing lots of people on the battlefield."
A former nine-term congressman who also served with Roberts in the U.S. House, Glickman said his friendship with Roberts was among several reasons for not running.
"I am rather fond of him personally, although he periodically makes me very angry," Glickman said, chuckling. "By and large, I like him a lot, and I'm not saying that necessarily was a major factor in my mind, but it's a lot easier to run against somebody you don't like than somebody you do like."
In an interview, Roberts shared the sentiment. Glickman called him Friday morning with the news.
"To run against a friend and colleague who down through the years we've had some pretty seminal events together I certainly wasn't looking forward to that," Roberts said. "I think we both realize that when you get into a statewide race, politics is not beanbag, and it would get rough.
"Plus I think he took a good, hard look at the time involved and at other things going on in his life," Roberts said.
Glickman and his supporters had been encouraged by polling done for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the political arm of Senate Democrats. He followed up with his own poll and said Friday the results were "not materially different."
Pollster Mark Mellman said Glickman tied Roberts in a head-to-head matchup and that Roberts' favorability, re-election and job approval ratings were below the comfort zone. Roberts' camp countered that the senator's own polling showed him well ahead of Glickman and with comfortable margins on other measures.
"I had always judged the race to be winnable, but uphill," Glickman said.