Sheffield Nelson

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Sheffield Nelson
Personal details
Born Edward Sheffield Nelson
(1941-04-23) April 23, 1941 (age 73)
Keevil, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Until 1989)
Republican (1989–present)
Spouse(s) Mary Lynn McCastlain
Children 2 daughters
Residence Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Alma mater University of Central Arkansas
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Profession Attorney, businessman and politician

E. Sheffield Nelson (born April 23, 1941) is an American attorney, businessman and politician from Little Rock, Arkansas. Originally a Democrat, Nelson in 1990 ran for Governor of Arkansas as a Republican against then governor and future U.S. President Bill Clinton and in 1994 against the Democratic Governor Jim Guy Tucker.

Nelson was born on April 23, 1941 in Keevil near Brinkley in Monroe County in eastern Arkansas. He graduated from Brinkley High School and thereafter received his undergraduate degree in mathematics education from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway, where he was the student body president. He obtained a law degree in 1969 from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Prior to his foray into politics, he was from 1973 through 1984 the CEO of a natural gas company, Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company, since known as CenterPoint Energy. Nelson has served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, from 2000 to 2007, under Governor Mike Huckabee. From 1990 to 1992, he was chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party. From 1992 to 2000, he was the Arkansas Republican National Committeeman, a position formerly held by the late Winthrop Rockefeller, the father of the GOP resurgence in Arkansas who was elected governor in 1966 and 1968.

In 1990, Nelson won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in a divisive race against then Second District Congressman Tommy Robinson. He then lost in the fall to Clinton. In 1994, he sought the governorship again and narrowly won the GOP primary over State Senator Steve Luelf and businessman Bill Jones. In that campaign his events coordinator was the later State Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View. Nelson was again defeated in the general election, 59 to 41 percent by Democratic Governor Jim Guy Tucker, who had succeeded Bill Clinton in December 1992, when Clinton resigned to become U.S. President. Nelson had openly predicted that Tucker would be indicted before the end of his elected term. Tucker was forced to resign in 1996 after his conviction in the Whitewater investigation. Nelson has remained a prominent part of Arkansas' political scene, promoting a proposal to raise the natural gas severance tax to fund highway improvements and openly attacking the attempts of the Game and Fish Commission to exempt itself from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in regard to fiscal matters.

Nelson is the fourth Arkansas Republican whom Bill Clinton defeated for governor. The others are the late Lynn Lowe, Frank D. White, and Woody Freeman.

Nelson and his wife, Mary Lynn McCastlain, an artist originally from Brinkley, reside in Little Rock. They have two daughters and thirteen grandchildren. He currently is a partner in the law firm of Jack Nelson Jones & Bryant in Little Rock.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank White
Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
1990, 1994
Succeeded by
Mike Huckabee