A $105,000 TV and radio ad campaign was launched Tuesday to brand former Sen. Bob Kerrey as a New York liberal in advance of his forthcoming decision on whether to enter Nebraska's 2012 Senate race.

Americans for Prosperity, a pro-business advocacy organization funded in large part by the industrialist Koch brothers, http://youtu.be/dKzDb_5vvMY">mounted the ad days after American Crossroads aired statewide radio ads mocking Kerrey as a New York carpetbagger.

American Crossroads was founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

The anti-Kerrey ad campaigns drew a quick response from Paul Johnson, the man who will manage Kerrey's campaign if he decides to become a candidate.

"It's pretty obvious that Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and their national organizations are terrified of someone like Bob Kerrey running for the Senate," Johnson said.

"What they fear most are independent leaders willing to do what's right for the country instead of serving as a lap dog for their self-serving agenda."

Kerrey, who was governor for one term before representing Nebraska in the Senate from 1989 to 2001, has said he is likely to reach a decision this week on whether to seek the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson at the end of this year.

The Americans for Prosperity TV ads, which will air for about a week, repeatedly paint Kerrey as a liberal.

"Straight from New York City, Bob Kerrey is bringing his liberal act to Nebraska," an announcer declares.

Kerrey left Nebraska in 2001 to accept the presidency of New School University.

Kerrey, the ad states, "supported government-run health care (and) refuses to support repeal of (President) Obama's health care law."

David and Charles Koch, who operate Koch Industries, have poured vast amounts of their money into conservative political causes.

"The purpose of (the anti-Kerrey) ads is to remind Bob Kerrey that Nebraskans do not share his East Coast views of government-oriented solutions to policy problems," said Brad Stevens, director of Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska.

Earlier, Magellan Strategies, a Republican-oriented polling firm, promoted results of a poll last week that showed Kerrey trailing two leading GOP Senate candidates.

Kerrey ran behind Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning by a 51-40 percent count and trailed State Treasurer Don Stenberg by 47-39.

Democrats dismissed the accuracy of the poll of 675 respondents last week, pointing to a Republican-heavy sample of voters and a methodology that employs automated telephone calls.

Kerrey was in Nebraska last week, touching base with people in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk and Grand Island in advance of making his decision.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at dwalton@journalstar.com.