U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is expected to announce resignation from Senate

By: - October 6, 2022 3:09 pm

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) leaves the Senate chamber after a procedural vote on a sweeping voting rights bill at the Capitol on June 22, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The measure failed as Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster by Republicans. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images)

OMAHA – U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who made his name nationally by disagreeing publicly with former President Donald Trump and voting with his party, plans to resign his post, the Nebraska Examiner has confirmed.

Four people familiar with Sasse’s decision making told the Examiner on Thursday that Sasse informed Senate staffers this week he will resign to take a job at an academic institution. His office did not return calls seeking confirmation.

KFAB talk show host Ian Swanson, a former staffer for Sasse, opened his show Thursday by breaking the news.
The University of Florida on Thursday afternoon listed Sasse as the only finalist for its presidency. Sasse joined the Senate in 2015 after serving as president of Midland University in Fremont, Neb.

He won re-election during a contentious 2020 election in which he ultimately earned Trump’s endorsement and fended off a challenger from the right. He outperformed Trump in Nebraska, earning 63% of the vote to Trump’s 58%.

His wife, Melissa, suffered a brain aneurysm in 2007 and the senator has, at times, alluded to her health concerns as a reason he might not seek re-election to the Senate beyond his current term.

Sasse, in a statement described the University of Florida as “uniquely positioned to lead this country through an era of disruption.” He emphasized the future of work and technology’s role in shaking things up.

“Washington partisanship isn’t going to solve these workforce challenges – new institutions and entrepreneurial communities are going to have to spearhead this work,” Sasse said in a tweet at 3:16 p.m.

The next step in Florida’s hiring process requires him to visit campus on Oct. 10, where he will meet with students and faculty. After that, the university will accept feedback until Nov. 1.

Barring the unexpected, people with knowledge of the process said, Sasse would resign his seat in either November or December, after he has been offered the job and accepted it.

Because the resignation could come within six weeks of a general election or shortly after it, Gov. Pete Ricketts would appoint Sasse’s replacement within 45 days of the vacancy. That replacement would serve until early 2025.

That would mean both of Nebraska’s Senate seats are up in 2024, a presidential election year, according to state law and verified by state election experts.

Speculation around Nebraska centers on who Ricketts might pick to join Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Rumored names include Ricketts, whom the law does not appear to prevent from appointing himself, State Sen. Brett Lindstrom, who lost the GOP nomination for governor this May, and State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha.

All three of Nebraska’s Republican U.S. House members might also be candidates for selection, Reps. Adrian Smith, Mike Flood and Don Bacon.

The Governor’s Office did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

This story was originally produced by the Nebraska Examiner which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus, including the Daily Montanan, supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. 

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also spent several years as an assignment editor and worked two stints as an editorial writer. From 2005 to 2007, he served as communications director for then-Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. Aaron most recently was the lead investigative reporter for KMTV 3 in Omaha, focusing on holding public officials accountable. His work has received awards from the Associated Press, Great Plains Journalism and more.