All eyes on Nebraska Gov. Ricketts to replace Sen. Sasse

Oct 7, 2022, 2:21 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm
FILE - Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ket...

FILE - Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Sasse is the sole finalist to become the president of the University of Florida, the school said Thursday, and the GOP senator has indicated that he will take the job. That means he could resign in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — With Ben Sasse apparently ready to resign his Nebraska U.S. Senate seat to become president of the University of Florida, speculation is rampant that his temporary replacement could be Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Ricketts, who like Sasse is a Republican, would otherwise be out of a political job due to term limits at the end of the year.

Scenarios of how Ricketts would ascend to the U.S. Senate run the gamut from his presumptive successor naming him as Nebraska’s newest U.S. senator to Ricketts appointing himself to fill the seat. However, Ricketts issued a statement Friday afternoon appearing to rule out appointing himself.

“If I choose to pursue the appointment, I will leave the appointment decision to the next governor and will follow the process established for all interested candidates,” Ricketts said in the statement.

The question is whether Ricketts wants the job.

“I think the obvious candidate is Pete Ricketts, and if he wants to be a U.S. senator, then it’s his to take,” said Mark Fahleson, a former chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.

Dan Welch, who was the state GOP chairman until he was unexpectedly voted out during a shake up at the state party’s convention in July, agreed that all eyes are on Ricketts to fill the seat.

“I haven’t talked to him, so I don’t know what his plans are,” Welch said. “This probably took him by surprise, too.”

Ricketts on Friday confirmed that the news of Sasse’s departure caught him off guard.

“The first I learned about Sen. Sasse’s plan to resign from the United States Senate was yesterday, when he called to notify me,” Ricketts said, adding that the job of governor “is the greatest job in the world, and it will remain my number one focus for the remainder of my term.”

The University of Florida confirmed Thursday that Sasse is the sole finalist to become the president of the school, and Sasse has indicated he will take the job. Fahleson, an attorney who is a longtime close friend of Sasse, said Friday that given the university’s process for hiring its next president, “the earliest he’ll step down is in early December.”

Sasse’s replacement would serve until 2024, the next opportunity for a special election for the seat. The winner of that election would then have to run again in 2026, when Sasse’s term expires.

Ricketts could still appoint a successor if Sasse resigns before Jan. 3, and the governor’s statement Friday didn’t address what he would do if Sasse resigns before Ricketts’ term is up. The governor’s office did not immediately return a message seeking clarification.

If Sasse were to leave the Senate after that, when Ricketts leaves office, the newly-elected governor would appoint Sasse’s replacement. Republican Jim Pillen — who has been heavily supported by Ricketts to be his successor — is favored to win the governor’s race in November.

The Nebraska Secretary of State’s office confirmed that there is nothing in Nebraska law that would keep a sitting governor from appointing himself. And most Democrats, according to Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb, had expected him to do so.

“Ricketts is power hungry and will do anything to either send himself or someone who will answer to him,” Kleeb said Friday. “Nebraskans are tied of the revolving door, musical chairs and one-party rule.”

While some political insiders feared Ricketts appointing himself to the seat would reek too much of self-dealing, others within the state’s Republican Party were unfazed by that possibility.

“It’s not self-dealing if he’s the obvious candidate for the job,” Fahleson said. “And there’s no one out there who’s on his level. He has not contemporaries.”

Fahleson said that, despite the questions about how the seat will be filled, there’s no question which party will control it.

“Nebraska is a solidly Republican state, and whoever makes that appointment will be a Republican,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, standing at rear, speaks during a censure motion a...
Associated Press

Australian Parliament censures former prime minister

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying” China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers. The center-left Labor Party government introduced to the House of Representatives a rare censure motion […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Colombia asks for legal status for its people already in US

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting 2 million Venezuelans who fled their homes. Gustavo Petro, who was elected Colombia’s first leftist president in June, is committed to the […]
20 hours ago
FILE - A woman, center, leaves to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office at Ulsan Jungbu po...
Associated Press

Bodies-in-suitcases suspect appears in New Zealand court

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A woman who was extradited from South Korea this week after the bodies of her two children were found in abandoned suitcases made her first court appearance in New Zealand on Wednesday. The 42-year-old woman has been charged with two counts of murder. She was not required to enter a […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

MLB sells share of BAMTech to Walt Disney Co. for $900M

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has sold its remaining share of a streaming service technology company to the Walt Disney Co. for $900 million. The sale was disclosed Tuesday in Walt Disney Co.’s annual filing report through the SEC. MLB received the $900 million in exchange for the 15% stake it still had […]
20 hours ago
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, left, walks in front of a memorial set up outside Club Q in Colorado Spr...
Associated Press

Colorado governor visits shooting site as community heals

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — In a crowded brewery, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis embraced Richard Fierro, the veteran hailed as a hero after tackling a shooter who killed five people and injured 17 others at the LGBTQ enclave Club Q last week. There was a festive atmosphere Tuesday at Atrevida Beer, owned by Fierro, where […]
20 hours ago
FILE - An SUV rests inside an Apple store behind a large hole in the glass front of the store on No...
Associated Press

Lawsuits claim negligence in Massachusetts Apple store crash

BOSTON (AP) — The family of a man who was badly hurt when an SUV crashed into an Apple store in Massachusetts, killing one person and injuring 20, sued the company, the driver and the property owners Tuesday in one of the first lawsuits filed over the crash. Matthew Timberger, of Falmouth, suffered broken bones […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
All eyes on Nebraska Gov. Ricketts to replace Sen. Sasse