WASHINGTON — With all the cheesy hair jokes being bandied about Thursday night, it was as if Ben Nelson had never left Nebraska's congressional delegation.
The Washington-based Nebraska Society honored the former U.S. senator with its Distinguished Nebraskan Award.
Nelson, now head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, told those at the ceremony that he's often asked why he left the Senate after two terms representing the state.
“The main reason was to pursue another direction while I still had my health and while I had the energy to do exactly what I wanted to do — and while I still had my marbles,” Nelson said.
He said he gets asked whether he misses his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.
“Sure — I miss some of them more than others,” he joked.
The award has been handed out to prominent businesspeople, journalists and politicians over the decades.
All three of Nebraska's U.S. House members and both senators, all Republicans, were on hand to praise the Democrat for his service to the state as senator and governor.
After the event, Nelson told The World-Herald his new job has plunged him into the midst of complicated federal and international insurance issues.
“The learning curve has been quite steep, but I've put my head down, shortened my strides and gone right up the hill.”
He said he's enjoying being a CEO again.
“Life is good.”