Outgoing Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts confirmed Tuesday that he is applying for appointment to the Senate seat being vacated by follow Republican Ben Sasse on Jan. 8.
Sasse sent Ricketts a letter on Monday saying that he would resign from the Senate to be president of the University of Florida effective at noon on that date, which is three days after Gov.-elect Jim Pillen takes office. Pillen on Monday formally announced plans to accept applications from Nebraskans for the Senate seat.
Pillen’s office said he wanted to move swiftly in making the appointment “to ensure Nebraska’s congressional delegation is returned to full strength as quickly as possible.”
Ricketts and his political operation backed Pillen’s run for governor and the businessman is widely expected to name Ricketts to the seat.
“For me, it came down to a single question: How can I best serve the people of Nebraska and advance our conservative values? In Congress, we’re in a fight for the future of our nation, and it’s a fight we have to win,” Ricketts said in a statement to local media announcing his application. “We must cut taxes, strengthen public safety and our national security, and protect our most sacred freedoms.”
It is not the first time Ricketts has sought a Senate seat. In 2006, he lost to then-Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.
The application for the seat is posted on the governor-elect’s official website, and Pillen’s office said application materials should be submitted by Dec. 23, which should give the incoming governor time to finalize the appointment ahead of Sasse’s formal resignation.
Sasse was elected to a second term in 2020, and the appointment would run until the next statewide election, in 2024.