Sen. Ben Nelson admits to a bit of melancholy and says his exit from public life is bittersweet.
In an interview with Nebraska Radio Network, Sen. Nelson says he’ll miss his staff, his colleagues and the Senate in general, but he won’t miss a sometimes toxic atmosphere overshadowing Congress.
Nelson says he’d like to do away with the political aisle.
“The aisle is bigger, deeper and taller in these last several years than it was when I got there,” Nelson tells us.
Nelson, a Democrat, says members now focus on the next election rather than fulfilling the promises of the last.
“And, as long as it continues to be about politics and partisanship and it’s no longer as much about the people as it needs to be, we’re going to have the inability to get things done and to merge together,” according to Nelson.
Nelson says that while the structure of the United States House fosters partisanship, the Senate avoided partisanship until lately. Nelson blames the special interest groups that fund the Super PACs (Political Action Committees) that funnel tremendous amounts of money into campaigns without accountability. He suggests Super PACs be forced to comply with campaign finance disclosure laws.
He considers his time on the Senate Armed Services Committee extremely important as well as his work on the Agriculture Committee.
Nelson says he will continue to split time between Washington and Nebraska, but now will spend more time in Nebraska than Washington. He says leaves public service to spend more time with his family and to check off items from his “bucket list”.
Nelson won election as governor in 1990 and re-election in 1994. He won election to the United States Senate in 2000 and re-election in 2006.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Sen. Ben Nelson about leaving public office. [30 min.]