|U.S. Senator from Florida|
From: January 3, 2001 - present
|Predecessor||Connie Mack III|
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|Former U.S. Representative from Florida's 11th District|
From: January 3, 1983 – January 5th, 1991
|Predecessor||Daniel A. Mica|
|Former U.S. Representative from Florida's 9th District|
From: January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1983
|Spouse(s)||Grace Cavert Nelson|
Clarence William "Bill" Nelson, born September 29, 1942 (age 75), is the senior United States Senator from Florida, Nelson is a member of the Democratic Party. He is the second sitting member of the United States Congress to fly in space when he flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist during NASA mission STS-61-C (January 12–18, 1986).
Early Life and Education
Nelson was born in Miami to Nannie Merle and C. W. Nelson. He attended the University of Florida for three years, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, and then transferred to Yale University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1965. Nelson studied at the University of Virginia, where he received his law degree in 1968.
From 1965 to 1971, Nelson served as a captain in the U.S. Army, both on active duty and in the Reserve.
Nelson served three terms as a representative to the Florida legislature from 1972 through 1978.
U.S. House of Representatives
Nelson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, representing Florida's District 9 until 1982. He was Florida District 11's representative from 1982 to 1991. In 1990, Nelson ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Florida. He lost to former U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles.
Florida State Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner
Nelson won the 1994 election for State Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner against Republican Tim Ireland. He served in the position from 1995 to 2000.
In 2000, Nelson won the election for U.S. Senator from Florida, defeating then-Representative Bill McCollum, the Republican candidate. The election was to replace retiring Republican Senator Connie Mack. In 2006 he was reelected to the Senate with 60% of the vote.
Bill Nelson is generally regarded as a moderate, and was among the few Democrats to vote in favor of CAFTA. He has also voted in favor of tighter bankruptcy restrictions and abolishing the estate tax. He also voted for the 2006 Military Commissions Act. However, he has voted against the Partial-birth abortion Ban Act and voted against a bill providing for criminal penalties for anyone harming an unborn child during the commission of a crime.
Nelson married Grace Cavert in 1972. The couple has two grown children, Nan Ellen and Bill, Jr.