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Clarence William “Bill” Nelson II (born September 29, 1942) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves as the senior United States Senator from Florida, in office since 2001. Nelson began his career in the Florida House of Representatives, where he served from 1973 to 1979. He then served in the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991 and in January 1986, Nelson became the second sitting member of the United States Congress to fly in space. He flew as a Payload Specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia.
He retired from Congress in 1990 to unsuccessfully run for Governor of Florida. He then served as Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal of Florida from 1995 to 2001. In 2000, Nelson ran for and was elected to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Senator Connie Mack III. He was re-elected in 2006 with 60% of the vote and in 2012 with 55% of the vote. In the Senate, he is generally considered a liberal on both social and economic issues.