Ben Nelson

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Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson.jpg
U.S. Senate, Nebraska
Retired Senator
In office
January 3, 2001-January 3, 2013
Base salary$174,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 7, 2006
First elected2000
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) was a Democratic member of the United States Senate from the state of Nebraska. Nelson was first elected to the Senate in 2000. He served from 2001-2013.

Nelson did not seek re-election in 2012 and was succeeded by Republican Deb Fischer, who won the general election on November 6, 2012.

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Nelson was a "centrist Democrat".[1]


The information about this individual is current as of when they left office. See anything that needs updating? Send a correction to our editors

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.[2]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Nelson serves on the following committees:[3]

  • 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)


Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Nelson voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by a 89/8 vote on January 1, 2013.[4]



See also: United States Senate elections in Nebraska, 2012

Nelson did not seek re-election in 2012.[5] Deb Fischer (R) defeated Bob Kerrey (D) and Russell Anderson (I) in the general election.


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]


Congressional Staff Salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Nelson paid his congressional staff a total of $2,489,798 in 2011. He ranked 11th on the list of the lowest paid Democratic Senatorial Staff Salaries and he ranked 40th overall of the lowest paid Senatorial Staff Salaries in 2011. Overall, Nebraska ranks 38th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[8]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by - The Center for Responsive Politics, Nelson's net worth as of 2010 was estimated between $6,562,096 and $13,799,001. That averages to $10,180,548.50, which was lower than the average net worth of Democratic Senators in 2010 of $19,383,524.[9]

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.[10]

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
Deb Fischer (R)
Preceded by
Kay A. Orr
Nebraska Governor
Succeeded by
Mike Johanns