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Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson
CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Assumed office
January 18, 2013
Preceded by Terri Vaughan
United States Senator
from Nebraska
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bob Kerrey
Succeeded by Deb Fischer
37th Governor of Nebraska
In office
January 9, 1991 – January 7, 1999
Lieutenant Maxine B. Moul
Kim M. Robak
Preceded by Kay A. Orr
Succeeded by Mike Johanns
Personal details
Born (1941-05-17) May 17, 1941
McCook, Nebraska
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Diane Nelson
Residence Omaha, Nebraska
Alma mater University of Nebraska (B.A., M.A., J.D.)
Occupation Attorney, insurance executive
Religion Methodist

Earl Benjamin "Ben" Nelson (born May 17, 1941) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 37th Governor of Nebraska from 1991 to 1999 and as a United States Senator from Nebraska from 2001 to 2013.

Nelson was an insurance executive before he entered politics. His first run for office was in 1990, when he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Governor Kay A. Orr. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1994.[1] He ran for an open U.S. Senate seat in 1996, losing in an upset to Republican Chuck Hagel. He was elected to Nebraska's other Senate seat in 2000 and was re-elected in 2006. He did not run for a third term in 2012 and left the Senate in 2013.

Nelson was one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, frequently voting against his party.[2]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career 2
    • Governor of Nebraska 2.1
    • Election to the Senate 2.2
    • Post-Senate career 2.3
  • Committee assignments and Caucus memberships 3
    • Committee assignments 3.1
    • Caucus memberships 3.2
  • Political positions and votes 4
    • Abortion 4.1
    • Judicial appointments 4.2
    • Iraq 4.3
    • Taxes 4.4
    • Earmarks 4.5
    • Health care 4.6
    • Other votes 4.7
  • 2006 re-election campaign 5
  • Electoral history 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and career

Nelson was born in McCook, in southwestern Nebraska. He is the only child of Birdella Ruby (née Henderson) and Benjamin Earl Nelson.[3] He earned a B.A. in 1963, an 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.[4] He won his first elected office in 1990 when he became governor of Nebraska.

In 2011, Nelson was named one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with an estimated net worth of at least $6.6 million. He owns investment and rental properties in Nebraska, in Washington, and in Chicago; his wife has significant holdings of Berkshire Hathaway stock.[5]

In January 2013, Nelson was named chief executive of the

Political offices
Preceded by
Kay A. Orr
Governor of Nebraska
Succeeded by
Mike Johanns
United States Senate
Preceded by
Bob Kerrey
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Nebraska
Served alongside: Chuck Hagel, Mike Johanns
Succeeded by
Deb Fischer
Party political offices
Preceded by
Helen Boosalis
Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Nebraska
1990, 1994
Succeeded by
Bill Hoppner
Preceded by
J. James Exon
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Nebraska
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Charlie A. Matulka
Preceded by
Bob Kerrey
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Nebraska
(Class 1)

2000, 2006
Succeeded by
Bob Kerrey

External links

  1. ^ a b THE 1994 ELECTIONS: CONGRESS; Who Won Where - The Races For Governor - New York Times
  2. ^ Nick Wing. "Ben Nelson Is Senate Democrat Most Likely To Vote Against His Party: Analysis". The Huffington Post January 4, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  3. ^ 1
  4. ^ Lincoln Journal Star, "Nelson's Past Motivates Crusade for Senate Seat," Oct 1, 2000, page 1A
  5. ^ "The Hill's 2011 50 Wealthiest in Congress". The Hill. September 5, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Ben Nelson Named NAIC CEO". Press release from National Association of Insurance Commissioners. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  7. ^ "Earl Benjamin Nelson". .San Francisco Chronicle Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Walton, Don. "Former Lincoln mayor Boosalis dies". .Lincoln Journal Star June 15, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  9. ^ "Helen Boosalis Dies". KOLN/KGIN TV. June 16, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  10. ^ State of Nebraska Annual Budgetary Reports, 1987-1998
  11. ^
  12. ^ Lincoln Journal Star, Oct 1, 2000, page 1A, "Nelson's Past Motivates Crusade for Senate Seat"
  13. ^ Call finally ends nuke waste dispute, Lincoln Journal Star, August 1, 2005
  14. ^ "Michael Johanns (R)". National Journal. November 4, 1998. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  15. ^ Nelson, Hagel pledge to work together
  16. ^ Home Page
  17. ^ Ben Nelson gets $1M payday
  18. ^ "Nelson Statement on Sebelius Confirmation". Ben Nelson Senate website.. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  19. ^ a b c Schmit-Albin, Julie. "Nebraska Right to Life: Betrayed by Senator Nelson's Action on Senate Healthcare Bill". December 19, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  20. ^ "2006 Endorsements". Nebraskans United for Life.. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  21. ^ Ben Nelson May Become the Stupak of the Senate on Abortion and Health Care
  22. ^ Adler, Jonathan (November 17, 2005). "Nelson on Alito".  
  23. ^ Toner, Robin (March 15, 2007). "Senate Rejects Measure for Iraq Pullout". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 19, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2007. 
  24. ^ - 'Have you been to Iraq?' – 76 sens. say they have
  25. ^ a b - Transcripts
  26. ^ Jones Commission Report pg. 127,
  27. ^ Jones Commission Report pg. 130,
  28. ^ Sioux City Journal: Nelson break ranks on Democratic call for Iraq pull out
  29. ^ Congress Adopts Budget Proposal With Big Tax Cut - New York Times
  30. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  31. ^ Radman, Adam. "Ask Sen. Ben Nelson to Keep His Taxpayer Protection Pledge on Any Health Care Votes." October 26, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  32. ^ "Sponsor(s) and Co-Sponsor(s) of S.1832 : Marketplace Fairness Act". Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  33. ^ Hammel, Paul. "Internet sales tax proposals gaining 'likes' among lawmakers". Omaha World-Herald. August 5, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  34. ^ of S.1832. Library of Congress--Thomas. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  35. ^ "Marketplace Fairness Act Questions". Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  36. ^ Legal Matters:Proposed Marketplace Fairness Act Threatens Direct Marketers
  37. ^ Brendan Dougherty, Michael (July 24, 2007). "Omaha Company's Windfall, Hiring of Lawmaker's Son Irks Senator". Fox News. Archived from the original on July 26, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2007. 
  38. ^ Omaha World Herald, 8/3/2007, "Future of Nelson earmarks unclear",
  39. ^ Omaha World Herald editorial August 16, 2007, The Oklahoman 8/6/2007, Senator attacks 'pork'; State avoids extra trims from Coburn
  40. ^ a b Murray, Shailagh, and Lori Montgomery. "Deal on health bill is reached". .Washington Post December 20, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  41. ^ "Nelson Speaks on Senate Floor About Nelson–Hatch Amendment". Transcript of Nelson's remarks on Senate floor; press release on Nelson's Senate website. December 7, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  42. ^ Kane, Paul. "To sway Nelson, a hard-won compromise on abortion issue". .Washington Post December 20, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  43. ^ O'Brien, Michael. "CBO pegs Nelson's Nebraska Medicaid deal cost at $100 million". The Hill. December 20, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  44. ^ Frates, Chris. "Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes". Politico. December 19, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  45. ^ Hayworth, Bret. "Dems push back to defend Nelson health vote". Sioux City Journal. December 23, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  46. ^ "Sen. Ben Nelson's Chronology". PBS Frontline. April 13, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  47. ^ a b Morton, Joseph. "'Cornhusker kickback' is toast". .Omaha World-Herald January 16, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  48. ^ Walton, Don. "Nebraska Right to Life OKs Dave Heineman, abandons Ben Nelson". .Lincoln Journal Star April 14, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  49. ^ "Election 2012: Nebraska Senate" Rasmussen Reports. December 29, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  50. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay, Jeff Zeleny, and Carl Hulse. "Health Vote Caps a Journey Back From the Brink". .New York Times March 20, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  51. ^ a b Herszenhorn, David. "Nelson to Vote Against Reconciliation Bill". .New York Times March 22, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  52. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay and Robert Pear. "Obama Calls for ‘Up or Down Vote’ on Health Care Bill". .New York Times March 22, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  53. ^ Morton, Joseph. "Students win, firms like Nelnet lose". .Omaha World-Herald March 27, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  54. ^ Olberding, Matt. "End of student loan program will mean job cuts at Nelnet". .Lincoln Journal Star March 26, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  55. ^ Walton, Don. "Nelson stands firm on health care reform." .Lincoln Journal Star September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  56. ^
  57. ^ NATIONAL JOURNAL: 2007 Vote Ratings (03/07/2007)
  58. ^ [5] The American Conservative Union. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  59. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Archived from the original on August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  60. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Archived from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  61. ^ [6]
  62. ^ USA Today article on Elena Kagan's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court
  63. ^ "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’". .New York Times January 26, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  64. ^
  65. ^ [7]
  66. ^
  67. ^ [8] Archived November 16, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  68. ^ "Elections 2006". Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  69. ^ "Elections 2006". Retrieved August 29, 2010. 


Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ben Nelson (Incumbent) 377,907 63.9 +12.9
Republican Pete Ricketts 213,054 36.1
Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ben Nelson 330,366 50.9
Republican Don Stenberg 318,368 49.1
  • 1996 Nebraska United States Senatorial Election
    • Chuck Hagel (R), 56%
    • Ben Nelson (D), 42%

Electoral history

Nelson easily defeated Ricketts 64-36%, the highest victory margin for a Democratic Senate candidate in Nebraska since Edward Zorinsky won 66 percent of the vote in his 1982 reelection bid.[67] In doing so, he received the votes of 42% of Republicans and 73% of Independents on top of 96% of those from his own party. He also won all but 13 counties in the western part of the state, a surprising feat in normally heavily Republican Nebraska.[68][69]

In the general election, Nelson was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, Nebraska Right to Life (National Right to Life's state affiliate),[64] Nebraskans United for Life,[65] the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses,[66] Nebraska Farmers Union PAC, National Farmers Union PAC, the Veterans of Foreign Wars PAC, the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, and the Omaha Police Union, all of which are conservative-leaning groups.

Nelson was thought to be in danger of losing his seat in 2006, as it was thought his successor as governor, Mike Johanns, was almost certain to run against him. However, that speculation ended when Johanns was appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. With Johanns' move to Washington, few high-profile Republicans stepped up to run against Nelson, as the state party focused its attention on the governor's race. The Republican nomination was won by Pete Ricketts, a former TD Ameritrade executive.

Election results by county for Nelson's 2006 reelection bid

2006 re-election campaign

On December 18, 2010, Nelson voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[63]

On August 5, 2010, Nelson was the only Democrat to vote against Elena Kagan for confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.[62]

Nelson was one of only two Democratic senators to vote against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. He voted with Republicans on matters of bankruptcy reform, environmental protection, lawsuit reform, and trade. In 2004 he was one of only three Democratic senators to vote to invoke cloture on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment; in 2006 he was one of only two Democratic Senators to vote that way.[59][60] He was the only Democratic senator to vote against a 2006 bill that would have extended federal funding for Stem Cell Research. He has, however, voted consistently against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He has also opposed President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.[61] Early in Bush's first term he voted with the majority of his party against scrapping President Bill Clinton's expansive new rules on ergonomics regulation for workers; many of his fellow conservative Democrats like John Breaux, Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln, and Zell Miller voted with Republicans on the issue. On April 26, 2010, Nelson was one of two Democratic senators in attendance to vote against the motion to move a financial regulations bill forward, siding with Senate Republicans. The other was Harry Reid, who voted against his own proposed bill out of procedure.

Nelson's votes in the Senate often placed him at odds with the leadership of his party. A National Journal congressional vote rating from 2006 placed him to the right of five Senate Republicans (Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Lincoln Chafee). Mary Landrieu was the only other Democrat to place to the right of any Republicans (she placed to the right of Chafee).[56] A similar 2007 National Journal congressional vote rating went even further, placing him to the right of eight Senate Republicans (the above five as well as Richard Lugar, Norm Coleman, and Mike DeWine), with Landrieu once again placing to the right of Chafee and being the only other Democrat to place to the right of any Republicans.[57] For 2012, the American Conservative Union rated his overall performance at 48 percent, the highest given to any Democratic senator.[58]

Other votes

The measure as ultimately passed eliminated the special Medicaid reimbursement for Nebraska, as Nelson had requested in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about a month after his crucial cloture vote.[47] Nelson stated that his opposition to the final measure arose from newly added provisions related to student loans,[51] which would adversely affect Nebraska-based student-lending firm Nelnet.[53][54] Despite his vote against it, he subsequently defended the law, declaring "I am willing to fight to improve it, but not to repeal it."[55]

With the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority. Since Brown had declared himself opposed to the health-care measure, the party's leadership opted to enact the legislation through the budget reconciliation process.[50] Nelson voted against the final version of the legislation, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[51] His vote at this stage was not particularly critical, since the reconciliation bill was not subject to filibuster and required only a simple majority.[52]

Nelson's popularity fell among Nebraskans in the wake of his cloture vote. A December 2009 Rasmussen poll indicated that in a hypothetical Nelson–Heineman race, the Republican would get 61% of the vote to Nelson's 30%. In the same poll, 64% of the Nebraska voters surveyed were opposed to the health-care bill.[49]

[19] and in April 2010 declared that they would never again give their endorsement to Nelson.[48]

The health-care measure was controversial, and Nelson's vote provoked a strong response. The Medicaid reimbursement scheme was derided by the measure's opponents as the "Cornhusker Kickback".[44] Among those denouncing the provision was Dave Heineman, Nebraska's Republican governor.[45] To these criticisms, Nelson responded that he had been attempting to eliminate an unfunded federal mandate upon the states,[46] and that the Nebraska item was a "placeholder", intended from the start to be replaced by a revision that would provide reimbursement for the increased Medicaid costs of all states.[47]

According to Nelson, he wanted to ensure that the final version of the law prohibited the use of public funds to pay for abortions.[41] His cloture vote came after the measure was amended to permit states to opt out of allowing insurance exchange plans to provide abortion coverage. Persons enrolling in plans that covered abortion costs would pay for that coverage separately from their payment for the rest of the plan.[42] The bill also provided full and permanent federal reimbursement for the expenses that Nebraska would incur in its mandated expansion of Medicaid eligibility,[40] an amount estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at $100 million.[43]

In late 2009, the Senate's 40 Republicans unanimously opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate's version of health-care legislation. To end a Republican filibuster and pass the measure, the Democrats needed the votes of all 58 of their senators, plus those of two independents who caucused with their party. Nelson was the 60th and last senator to agree to vote for cloture.[40]

Health care

In July 2007, fellow Senator Tom Coburn criticized earmarks that Nelson had inserted into the 2007 defense spending bill. Coburn alleged that these earmarks would benefit Nelson's son Patrick's employer with millions in federal dollars, and that the situation violated terms of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which was passed by the Senate but has not yet been voted on in the House. Nelson's spokesperson said the Senator did nothing wrong[37] and that he was only acting under "an abundance of caution" when he withdrew the amendment after the new Senate Ethics Rules were passed. Some government watchdogs, including Public Citizen, commented that the earmark probably didn't violate ethics rules.[38] Coburn's motives were called into question by more than one publication, as his criticism did not include his own state delegation's earmark requests.[39]


In July 2012, Nelson, with 18 other senators,[32] cosponsored a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes on interstate sales, including catalogue and Internet sales.[33] The bill (Marketplace Fairness Act (S.1832;112th Congress), S.1832) would require any seller who sold a product or service to a consumer from another state to calculate, collect and pay to that other state the sales tax based on the tax rates of that other state.[34] Proponents argued that the measure would redress an unfair economic advantage enjoyed by online sellers over local businesses, arising from the fact that the former were often not required to collect sales taxes from their customers.[35] Opponents maintained that it would be unfair to require interstate merchants to collect sales taxes in jurisdictions where they had no physical presence, and thus derived no benefit from the taxes; and that the variety and complexity of state and local sales taxes would place a burden on merchants required to keep track of them in order to collect the taxes.[36]

In October 2009, the organization Americans for Tax Reform stated that Nelson was the only Democratic Senator who had signed their Taxpayer Protection Pledge,[30] and launched an advocacy campaign to urge him to oppose the current health care reform proposals in Congress, which, they asserted, contained "billions of dollars in income tax hikes."[31]

which accelerated many of the provisions in the 2001 tax cut in addition to benefits for small businesses. 2003 tax cut He was also the deciding vote for passage of the [29] Nelson was one of five Democratic Senators who voted for the


Nelson and Collins (a Republican) also introduced legislation on July 11, 2007 that would transition U.S. troops out of Baghdad. The legislation called for turning over internal security efforts to Iraqi forces after which time the U.S. military would secure the borders, protect the infrastructure, and continue to search for al-Qaeda forces.[25]

In the spring of 2007, Senators Nelson, David Petraeus were then required to report on the advancement of these "benchmarks".[28]

As a result of traveling to Iraq four times, the latest being in September 2007,[24] Nelson took the position that a transition of the mission was necessary in Iraq as opposed to a full withdrawal of troops.[25] His view was supported by the Jones Commission on September 6, 2007 when General James L. Jones presented a report to Congress claiming that, "The circumstances of the moment may continue to present the opportunity for considering a shift in the disposition and employment of our forces... such a strategy would include placing increasing responsibilities for the internal security of the nation on the ISF, especially in urban areas. Coalition forces could be re-tasked to better ensure the territorial defense of the state by increasingly concentrating on the eastern and western borders and the active defense of the critical infrastructures essential to Iraq."[26] The premise that stability in Iraq would only be achieved through political reconciliation acted on through legislation, a view long held by Nelson, was also recommended by Jones, reporting, "The future of Iraq ... hinges on the ability of the Iraqi people and the government to begin the process of achieving national reconciliation and to ending sectarian violence."[27]

On March 15, 2007, Nelson was one of two Democratic Senators to vote against invoking cloture on a resolution aimed at withdrawing most American combat troops from Iraq in 2008. The vote, requiring 60 votes to pass, was 50 to 48 against.[23]


In an op-ed column, Nelson wrote: "The president's nominees, especially to the Supreme Court, deserve an up-or-down vote, even if the nominee isn't popular with the special-interest groups in Washington."[22]

Nelson was the lead Democratic Senator among the "appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor) would receive a vote by the full Senate. Subsequently, he was the only Democrat to vote in favor of Brown; he was later the first Democratic senator to support Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nelson also voted twice, with three other Democrats, to end Senate debate over Bush's United Nations Ambassador nominee John Bolton.

Judicial appointments

Nelson describes himself as "pro-life".[18] In the 2006 election, he was endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life[19] and Nebraskans United for Life.[20] Nelson expressed strong support for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House of Representatives' 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act, which placed limits on taxpayer-funded abortions.[21] However, he lost the support of Nebraska Right to Life after he voted in favor of the Senate's version of health-care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which did not contain the Stupak language.[19]


Political positions and votes

Caucus memberships

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Senators Ben Nelson and Jim Webb prior to a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the START Treaty.

Committee assignments

Committee assignments and Caucus memberships

In January 2013, Nelson was named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.[17]

Post-Senate career

In November 2004, it was widely rumored that President agriculture secretary in the cabinet. In the end, the position went to Nelson's gubernatorial successor, Mike Johanns.

Nelson was again nominated by the Democrats for the Senate in the 2000 election after his fellow Democrat, incumbent Bob Kerrey, announced his retirement. His opponent was Attorney General Don Stenberg. Nelson won that election with 50.99% of the vote after a campaign in which he spent 50% more ($1,004,985) than his opponent. Despite initially pledging to work together,[15] Nelson and Hagel had a somewhat frosty relationship.[16]

Senator Ben Nelson (right) with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Election to the Senate

In 1998, Nelson was ineligible to run for re-election because of Nebraska's term-limits law. He was succeeded as governor by Mike Johanns, the Republican mayor of Lincoln.[14]

Nelson ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1996 when fellow Democrat Jim Exon retired. He was soundly defeated by Republican businessman and Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel in one of the political upsets of 1996.

During the 1990 campaign, Nelson attacked Orr's support for a proposed low-level nuclear waste dump in the state. During his tenure, the Nebraska State Department of Environmental Quality denied the dump's application for an operating license, prompting a lawsuit that Nebraska settled for $145 million.[13]

As governor, Nelson took some conservative stances on issues in right-leaning Nebraska. He pushed welfare reform before it was done at a national level and opposed President Bill Clinton's efforts on health care.[12]

During his tenure, Nelson cut spending from the previous administration by 64% while it was scheduled to rise by 13%.[10] He introduced legislation to cut crime through the Safe Streets Act and Juvenile Crime Bill, advocated for low-income families through the Kids Connection health care system, and enacted welfare reforms. He also cut taxes for over 400,000 middle income families in Nebraska.[11]

Nelson was elected governor in the state's fourth-closest gubernatorial race in history in 1990. He was easily re-elected in 1994 with 74% of the vote – the largest margin of victory for a governor in half a century.[1] During his first race for governor, Nelson ran against incumbent Kay A. Orr, the first Republican woman to be elected Governor in United States history.

Governor of Nebraska

In 1986, Nelson served as state chairman of Democrat Helen Boosalis's gubernatorial campaign. Boosalis was defeated by state treasurer Kay Orr, who captured 53% of the vote to Boosalis's 47%.[7][8][9]

Political career


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