Sen. Ben Nelson has rehired his former campaign manager, sending a strong signal that he will run for reelection in 2012.

KETV NewsWatch 7 in Nebraska reports that Nelson has brought back Paul Johnson, the manager of his 2006 Senate campaign. Although Nelson has not announced his plans, a spokesman for the senator told KETV that he is "leaning toward running" for a third term in the Senate.

Nelson likely faces a tough battle in 2012. A Magellan Strategies poll last December found 52 percent of likely voters in the state had an unfavorable view of Nelson, while 43 percent had a favorable view. 

The GOP views Nelson's seat as a prime pick-up opportunity. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to take control of the Senate.

Nelson already has drawn a high-profile Republican challenger. In January, Nebraska's Republican attorney general, Jon Bruning, announced his candidacy.