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Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson

among his own constituents.[1] In their most recent poll, his approval rating was 68%.[2]

Early life and family
Nelson was born in McCook, a rural southwestern town in Nebraska to Birdella Ruby Henderson and Benjamin Earl Nelson.[3] He earned a BA in 1963, a MA in 1965, a JD in 1970 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was an attorney and insurance executive, winning his first elected office in 1990.

United States Senator from Nebraska Incumbent Assumed office January 3, 2001 Serving with Mike Johanns Preceded by J. Robert Kerrey

Political career
Governor
Nelson was elected governor in the state’s fourth-closest gubernatorial race in history (he won the closely contested Democratic nomination by only 2 votes) 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[4]. During his first race for governor, Nelson ran against incumbent Kay A. Orr, the first Republican woman to serve as Governor in United States history. In 1991, Nelson’s plan as Governor was to bridge the gaps between rural and urban areas – a "One Nebraska" – and create a "more efficient and effective state government."[5] He did this by focusing on the assets and values of the state. In 1997, Nebraska produced 300 million gallons of ethanol, more than triple the 1990 production.[6] During his tenure, Nelson cut spending from the previous administration by 64% while it was scheduled to rise by 13%.[7] 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 that helped welfare recipients get the support needed to return to work. He also cut taxes for over 400,000 middle income families in Nebraska.[5] 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

40th Governor of Nebraska In office January 9, 1991 – January 7, 1999 Lieutenant Preceded by Succeeded by Born Political party Spouse Residence Alma mater Occupation Religion Maxine B. Moul (1991-1993) Kim M. Robak (1993-1999) Kay A. Orr Mike Johanns May 16, 1941 (1941-05-16) McCook, Nebraska Democratic Diane Nelson Omaha, Nebraska University of NebraskaLincoln attorney Methodist

Earl Benjamin "Ben" Nelson (born May 17, 1941) is the Senior U.S. Senator from Nebraska, where he was born and has lived for most of his life. Nelson is a Methodist. A Democrat, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, and is now the leading conservative Democrat in the Senate. An April 2006 poll by Survey USA found him to be the Senator with the highest popularity rating, 73%,

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Environmental Quality denied the dump’s application for an operating license, prompting a law-suit that Nebraska settled for $145 million. While in office, Nelson oversaw the only three executions in the state of Nebraska since the lifting of the moratorium in 1973. Nebraska’s Governor has no exclusive power to commute the death sentence and just sits on the Board of Clemency. 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 noteworthy political upsets of 1996. Nelson left the governor’s office in January 1999 after two terms (he was ineligible to run again because of term limits). He was succeeded by Republican Mike Johanns. When he left office, the state had a General Fund surplus balance of almost $300 million and a rainy day fund of $145 million. Nelson cut the sales tax and income tax and cut $157 million in spending. He also was able to pass eight balanced budgets without resorting to special sessions.

Ben Nelson
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,[8] Nelson and Hagel have a somewhat frosty relationship.[9] In November 2004, it was widely rumored that President George W. Bush would choose Nelson as his agriculture secretary in the cabinet. In the end, the position went to Nelson’s gubernatorial successor, Mike Johanns.

Committee assignments
• • 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 • • Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces • •

Election to the Senate

Political positions and votes
Cooperation with Republicans
Nelson was the lead Democratic Senator among 14 Senators who, on May 23, 2005, forged a compromise on the Democrats’ use of the judicial filibuster, thus blocking the Republican leadership’s attempt to implement the so-called "nuclear option". Under the agreement among the 14 Senators, Democrats would retain the power to filibuster one of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and the three most conservative Bush 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

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

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United States. Nelson also voted twice, with three other Democrats, to end Senate debate over Bush’s United Nations Ambassador nominee John Bolton. 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."[10] Former President Bush nicknamed Nelson "The Benator." Originally, Bush nicknamed him "Nellie," but Nelson jokingly complained that he would prefer a "tougher" nickname.[5]

Ben Nelson
allowed for progress to be measured in certain areas such as recognition of minority groups, strengthening of internal security forces, and equal distribution of oil revenue. The President and General Petraeus were then required to report on the advancement of these "benchmarks".[16] Senator Nelson and Republican Senator Collins 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.[13]

Iraq
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.[11] As a result of traveling to Iraq four times, the latest being in September, 2007[12], Senator Nelson took the position that a transition of the mission was necessary in Iraq as opposed to a full withdrawal of troops.[13] His view was supported by the Jones Commission on September 6, 2007 when General James 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."[14] The premise that stability in Iraq would only be achieved through political reconciliation, long a view of Senator Nelson acted on through legislation, was also recommended by General 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."[15] In the spring of 2007, Senators Ben Nelson, Susan Collins of Maine, and John Warner of Virginia authored a list of measures, or "benchmarks", that were included in the Iraq Supplemental bill. These benchmarks

Taxes
Nelson played a vital role in passing the 2001 tax cut. In 2001, Nelson was one of a handful of centrist senators that helped craft the proposal to cut taxes by $1.3 trillion that was ultimately signed into law. In addition to passing the third-largest tax cut in American history, the compromise that Nelson supported freed up more funds for special education, agriculture, and defense spending. Provisions of the tax cut included immediate tax relief, accelerated tax relief for middle-income workers and a repeal of the estate tax.[17] He was also the deciding vote for passage of the 2003 tax cut which accelerated many of the provisions in the 2001 tax cut in addition to benefits for small businesses. As part of this tax package, Nelson teamed up with Senator Susan Collins to include fiscal relief for states suffering from the downturn in the economy. The final package included $20 billion to ensure that low-income families, children, seniors, and persons with disabilities were able to get the health and social services they needed from the state.[18]

Views on abortion
Nelson is one of four self-described pro-life Democrats in the Senate. Nelson is a member of the Democrats for Life of America, a national organization for pro-life members of the Democratic party that advocates a 95% reduction in the number of abortions performed over the next 10 years. In the 2006 election, Nelson was endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life[19] and Nebraskans United for Life[20] – the two largest pro-life organizations in the state.

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Ben Nelson
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.[25] 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. [4]. 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 July 12, 2007, Nelson broke with his party in a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee, restoring funding to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

Earmarks
In July 2007, fellow Senator Tom Coburn criticized pork barrel spending Nelson had inserted into the 2007 defense spending bill. Coburn alleged that the 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[21] and 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.[22] Additionally, Coburn’s motives were called into question by more than one publication, as his earmark blasts fell silent about his own state delegation’s earmark requests.[23]

Other votes
Nelson’s votes in the Senate have often placed him at odds with the leadership of his party. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has said that Nelson is probably the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. This perception is supported by a National Journal congressional vote rating from 2006, which placed Nelson 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). [3] 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.[24] Nelson was one of only two Democratic senators to vote against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Nelson is strongly opposed to replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, a position that finds favor with increasingly many conservatives. He has voted with Republicans on matters of bankruptcy reform, environmental protection, lawsuit reform, and trade. In 2004 he was

Stimulus plan
Nelson is currently regarded as close Senate ally of President Obama and key leader of the so-called coalition with moderate Republicans to pass a bipartisan stimulus bill. TIME magazine (February 6, 2009) called him Obama’s "ambassador to the right"[26]. Nelson and Susan Collins (R-ME) organized the complete elimination of National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, along with deep cuts to science programs at NASA, NOAA, and NIST. Nelson and Collins’ amendment also eliminated funding for Head Start, school improvement, and child nutrition, as well as cutting $60 billion for school construction, which represented the bulk of the cuts. In place, Nelson and Collins organized additional spending on defense operations and procurement and transportation.[5][6]

2006 re-election campaign
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

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Party

Ben Nelson
Candidate Votes % ±%

Democratic Ben Nelson Republican Don Stenberg Party Election results by county for Nelson’s 2006 reelection bid 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. In the general election, Nelson was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, Nebraska Right to Life [7], Nebraskans United for Life [8], the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses [9], 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 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.[10] 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 12 counties in the western part of the state, a surprising feat in normally heavily Republican Nebraska. [11] [12] Candidate

330,366 51.9 318,368 49.1

Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2006 Votes % ±% Democratic Ben Nelson 377,907 63.9 +12.9 (Incumbent) Republican Pete Ricketts 213,054 36.1

Footnotes

2008 Presidential election
In the 2008 Democratic Party primary elections Nelson endorsed fellow senator Barack Obama.

Electoral history
• • Chuck Hagel (R), 56% • Ben Nelson (D), 42% Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2000

[1] SurveyUSA - 100 US Senator Approval Ratings 05/06 Sort By Approval [2] http://www.surveyusa.com/50State2006/ Net100USSenatorApproval061122.htm [3] 1 [4] THE 1994 ELECTIONS: CONGRESS; Who Won Where - The Races For Governor - New York Times [5] ^ http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/ almanac/2002/people/ne/nes2.htm [6] USDA (http://www.usda.gov/oce/ newsroom/congressional_testimony/ mtbetst.htm); http://www.neo.ne.gov/ statshtml/67.htm [7] State of Nebraska Annual Budgetary Reports, 1987-1998 [8] Nelson, Hagel pledge to work together [9] Omaha.com Home Page [10] Adler, Jonathan (November 17, 2005), "Nelson on Alito", National Review Online, http://bench.nationalreview.com/ post/ ?q=ZmRjZjVhNTViODU2YjRiNzc3ZTEyMmJlMjE2Yzc retrieved on 2009-05-15. [11] Toner, Robin (March 15, 2007), "Senate Rejects Measure for Iraq Pullout", The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/ washington/15cnd-cong.html?hp, retrieved on 2007-03-15. [12] TheHill.com - ’Have you been to Iraq?’ – 76 sens. say they have [13] ^ CNN.com - Transcripts [14] Jones Commission Report pg. 127, http://www.c-span.org/pdf/ jonesreport090607.pdf [15] Jones Commission Report pg. 130, http://www.c-span.org/pdf/ jonesreport090607.pdf

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Political offices Preceded by Kay A. Orr United States Senate Preceded by Bob Kerrey United States Senator (Class 1) from Nebraska 2001 – present
Served alongside: Chuck Hagel, Mike Johanns

Ben Nelson

Governor of Nebraska 1991 – 1999

Succeeded by Mike Johanns Incumbent

Party political offices Preceded by Helen Boosalis Preceded by J. James Exon Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Nebraska 1990, 1994 Succeeded by Bill Hoppner

Succeeded by Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Neb- Charlie A. Matulka raska (Class 2) 1996 Succeeded by Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Neb- Next election: 2012 raska (Class 1) 2000, 2006 United States Senators by seniority 59th Succeeded by Lisa Murkowski
R-Alaska

Preceded by Bob Kerrey

Order of precedence in the United States of America Preceded by Maria Cantwell
D-Washington

[16] Sioux City Journal: Nelson break ranks on Democratic call for Iraq pull out [17] Congress Adopts Budget Proposal With Big Tax Cut - New York Times [18] Omaha World Herald, 5/16/2003, "Grassley, Nelson have helped shape taxcut package in Senate" [19] boardofdirectors [20] Welcome to Nebraskans United for Life! [21] Brendan Dougherty, Michael (2007-07-24), "Omaha Company’s Windfall, Hiring of Lawmaker’s Son Irks Senator", Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com/story/ 0,2933,290532,00.html, retrieved on 2007-07-24. [22] Omaha World Herald, 8/3/2007, "Future of Nelson earmarks unclear", http://www.omaha.com/ index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10094581 [23] Omaha World Herald editorial 8/16/ 2007, The Oklahoman 8/6/2007, Senator attacks ’pork’; State avoids extra trims from Coburn

[24] NATIONAL JOURNAL: 2007 Vote Ratings (03/07/2007) [25] [1] [2] [26] http://www.time.com/time/politics/ article/0,8599,1877535,00.html

External links
• United States Senator Ben Nelson, U.S. Senate site • Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress • Voting record maintained by The Washington Post • Campaign finance reports and data at the Federal Election Commission • Campaign contributions at OpenSecrets.org • Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart • Issue positions and quotes at On The Issues

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Ben Nelson

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Nelson" Categories: United States Senators from Nebraska, Governors of Nebraska, Nebraska lawyers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumni, American Methodists, 1941 births, Living people, State cabinet secretaries of the United States, Nebraska Democrats, People from Nebraska, Distinguished Eagle Scouts This page was last modified on 23 May 2009, at 00:27 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers

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