Earl Benjamin Nelson (born May 17, 1941) is an American politician, businessman, and lawyer who served as the 37th Governor of Nebraska from 1991 to 1999 and as a United States Senator from Nebraska from 2001 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
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 Orr. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1994. 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.