Ben Nelson

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Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson.jpg
U.S. Senate, Nebraska
In office
January 3, 2001-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2013
Years in position 24
Base salary$174,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 7, 2006
First elected2000
Next generalNovember 6, 2012
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Nebraska Governor
Bachelor'sUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln
Master'sUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln
J.D.University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Date of birthMay 17, 1941
Place of birthMcCook, Nebraska
ProfessionAttorney, Insurance Executive
Office website
Campaign website
E. Ben Nelson (b. May 17, 1941) is a Democratic member of the United States Senate from the state of Nebraska. Nelson was first elected to the Senate in 2000.

In December 2011, Nelson announced that he would not run for re-election in 2012.[1] Nine candidates are currently running for Nelson's Senate seat. Primary elections will be held on May 15, 2012.[2]


Nelson was born in McCook, in southwestern Nebraska. He earned a B.A. in 1963, a M.A. in 1965, and a J.D. in 1970 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nelson made his name and money in the insurance industry. After graduating from law school, Nelson landed a job as assistant general counsel for Central National Insurance Group of Omaha. In 1975, he became state insurance director before going back to work for Central National Insurance as an executive vice president and eventually president. He won his first elected office in 1990 when he became governor of Nebraska.[3]


Committee Assignments

U.S. Senate


Nelson serves on the following committees:[4]

  • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    • Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit
    • Subcommittee on Energy, Science and Technology
    • Subcommittee on Domestic and Foreign Marketing, Inspection, and Plant and Animal Health
  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Legislative Branch (Chairman)
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Armed Services
    • Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
    • Subcommittee on Personnel
    • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces (Chairman)


Political positions

Percentage voting with party

November 2011

Ben Nelson voted with the Democratic Party 79.6% of the time, which ranked 51st among the 51 Senate Democratic members as of November 2011.[5]



See also: United States Senate elections in Nebraska, 2012

Nelson will not seek re-election in 2012.[1] Larry Marvin, Steven P. Lustgarten, and Sherman Yates are seeking the Democratic nomination and will face one another in the May 15, 2012 primary. Jon Bruning, Deb Fischer, Pat Flynn, Don Stenberg, and Spencer Zimmerman are seeking the Republican nomination. Russell Anderson is running as an Independent.


On November 7, 2006, Nelson was re-elected to the United States Senate for a second term. He defeated Pete Ricketts (R). [6]

United States Senate Nebraska General Election, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBen Nelson Incumbent 63.9% 378,388
     Republican Pete Ricketts 36.1% 213,928
Total Votes 592,316

Campaign donors


Breakdown of the source of Nelson's campaign funds before the 2006 election.

Nelson was re-elected to the U.S. Senate for a second term in 2006. His campaign committee raised a total of $7,624,168 and spent $7,486,646.[7]

Recent news

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He is married to Diane Nelson.

External links


Political offices
Preceded by
J. Robert Kerrey
United States Senate - Nebraska
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Kay A. Orr
Nebraska Governor
Succeeded by
Mike Johanns