Bean was born in Fernandina Beach and attended Jacksonville University, where he graduated with a degree in finance in 1989, and became a banker. From 1996 to 1999, he served as a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner and was elected by the City Commission to serve as Mayor-Commissioner.
In 2000, when long-serving incumbent State Representative George Crady, a Democrat, did not seek re-election, Bean ran to succeed him in the 12th District, which included parts of Baker County, Bradford County, Duval County, Nassau County, and Union County. In the general election, Bean defeated Bobby Hart, the Democratic nominee, receiving 58% of the vote. Running for re-election in 2002, he faced Joseph Ballard, the Libertarian nominee, whom he easily defeated, receiving 84% of the vote. Bean was re-elected without opposition in 2004 and 2006, and in 2008, could not seek a fifth term due to term limits and was succeeded in the legislature by fellow Republican Janet H. Adkins.
In 2012, when Florida Senate districts were reconfigured, the 4th District was drawn to include all of Nassau County, and parts of Duval County, taking in most of the northern suburbs of Jacksonville. Bean opted to run in the newly created district, and faced State Representative Mike Weinstein in the Republican primary. In his campaign, he was endorsed by former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the National Rifle Association. Bean campaigned on increasing the region's political power and clout in state politics, declaring, "We're going to...really strengthen our region and fight as we compete with the Tampas and the Miamis." He ended up comfortably defeating Weinstein and winning the primary election, receiving 64% of the vote to Weinstein's 36%, and advanced to the general election, where he faced Nancy Soderberg, the Democratic nominee and a former high-ranking official at the United States National Security Council and an ambassador during the Clinton Administration. During the election, Soderberg attacked Bean for taking campaign contributions from health care companies and for cutting education in the 2008 state budget, while Bean campaigned on increasing school choice for parents, arguing, "We need to give parents the right to choose where they send their kids," and once again on increasing the region's ability to fight for its interests, noting, "We need to hustle through leadership, hustle through skills." Despite the contentiousness of the election and Soderberg's high profile, it was not a close election, and Bean overwhelmingly defeated her, winning his first term in the Florida Senate with 62% of the vote.
While serving in the Senate, Bean proposed legislation during the 2013 legislative session that, in addressing the Medicaid expansion provided for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "would reject the $51 billion offered over the next decade for expansion under Obamacare and use state money...to set up a healthcare marketplace under Florida Health Choices, a system he helped set up in 2008 as a member of the House." During the 2014 legislative session, Bean staked out a position in opposition to legislation that would give the children of undocumented immigrants, who live in the country illegally, the ability to pay in-state tuition at state universities, arguing, "I know it feels good giving benefits away. We are giving so many benefits to non-citizens...does it matter even being an American citizen anymore?"