On Dec. 5, 2022, former Secretary of State John Scott announced that he would resign from office at the end of the year to return to his private legal practice. Abbott had appointed Scott as Secretary of State on Oct. 21, 2021. He began serving one week later.
Soon after Scott's announcement, Abbott announced his intent to appoint Nelson to fill the role as the 115th Secretary of State for Texas. Nelson did not run for re-election after serving 30 years in the Texas Senate, including serving as chair of the Senate Finance Committee since 2014.
"Sen. Nelson’s lifelong commitment to public service and deep understanding of state government will be assets in her new role ensuring the critical duties of Secretary of State are fulfilled," Abbott said in a statement. "Nothing is more important to a free society than fair elections, and the State of Texas will continue working to uphold and protect this right."
"I look forward to this new chapter of public service and appreciate the confidence Gov. Abbott has placed in me to serve as Secretary of State," Nelson said in a statement. "Voters expect fair elections with accurate, timely results, and I am committed to making that happen. Texans with all political views should have faith in our election system."
The secretary of state is the chief election officer for Texas, assisting local election officials and ensuring election laws are followed uniformly. The Office of the Secretary of State also provides a repository for official business and commercial records required to be filed with the office, and the secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public. The secretary also serves as the keeper of the state seal and attester to the governor's signature on official documents.
In addition, the secretary serves as the senior advisor and liaison to the governor for "Texas Border and Mexican Affairs" and serves as the chief international protocol officer for Texas.
According to a press release from her office, Nelson is a businesswoman and former teacher who was first elected to the Texas Senate in 1992 after serving two terms on the State Board of Education. In 1992, she was the 10th woman elected to the state Senate. She has served in the Senate longer than any other Republican.
Additionally, she was chair of the Senate Health Committee longer than anyone in history prior to becoming the first woman of either party to be named chair of the Senate Finance Committee in 2014. In 2019, Nelson became the first woman to preside over opening day of the Texas Senate.
According to her office, Nelson's list of accomplishments include "establishing the Cancer Research & Prevention Institute of Texas, reforming medical liability, achieving tax relief, overhauling the foster care system, expanding access to mental health care, and passing over 30 bills to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking."
Nelson and her husband, J. Michael Nelson, owned and operated an aircraft component manufacturing company in Denton County. The pair have five children and 12 grandchildren.