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. A Democrat, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000.
A native of McCook, in southwestern Nebraska, Nelson earned a B.A. in 1963 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, followed by a M.A. in 1965, and a J.D. in 1970. Nelson's early career as assistant general counsel for Central National Insurance Group of Omaha was followed by service as Nebraska's State Insurance Director before he returned to Central National Insurance as an executive vice president; he eventually became the company's President.
Nelson entered politics in 1990, when he was elected the 37th Governor of Nebraska. He was easily re-elected in 1994 with 74% of the vote. Nelson ran for an open seat in the U.S. Senate in 1996, losing to Republican Chuck Hagel, and left the Governor's office in January 1999 due to term limits, after serving two full terms. Nelson was elected to the U.S. Senate in the 2000 election after incumbent Bob Kerrey retired.