In an announcement Tuesday, Ricketts said he would seek the office after Sasse left to become the next president of the University of Florida. Ricketts was term-limited as governor and will be replaced by Governor-elect Jim Pillen. Pillen, who will be sworn in on January 5, previously stated he is accepting applications for individuals to fill the seat until a special election is held in 2024.
“For me, it came down to a single question: How can I best serve the people of Nebraska and advance our conservative values?” Ricketts said in a statement, via The Hill. “In Congress, we’re in a fight for the future of our nation, and it’s a fight we have to win. We must cut taxes, strengthen public safety and our national security, and protect our most sacred freedoms.”
“Over the last eight years, we’ve shown the world the real impact conservative leadership can have,” he added. “I want to continue delivering results for our state, fighting to reduce taxes, grow our economy, defend our liberties, and run government more like a business. I’ll never stop working to get the job done, and that’s why I’m asking for Governor-elect Pillen’s consideration.”
Pillen announced on Monday that he was accepting applications to fill Sasse’s seat. Applications must be submitted by December 23, WOWT reported. A special election to fill the remainder of Sasse’s term will be held in 2024.
In a letter to Ricketts on Monday, Sasse, who was just re-elected in 2020, confirmed that his resignation will take effect on January 8. “It has been a great honor to serve the people of Nebraska in the U.S. Senate these last eight years,” Sasse wrote. “I am confident that Governor-Elect Pillen will appoint someone who will serve Nebraskans well in Washington.”
“The University of Florida is uniquely positioned to lead this country through an era of disruption,” Sasse said in a statement at the time. “The single biggest challenge our nation faces is the radical disruption of work. Technology is changing everything about where, when, why, what, and how Americans work and so it’s changing our homes, neighborhoods, and communities too.”
Sasse said that he has been courted by top universities over the last couple of years, but that he and his wife had resisted attempts to lure him out of the Senate.
Sasse said this time was different though because he views the University of Florida as “the most interesting university in America right now.”
“Melissa and I have been pursued by wonderful institutions the past two years, but we’ve resisted being named a finalist,” Sasse said. “This time is different because the University of Florida is very different: I think Florida is the most interesting university in America right now.”
The University of Florida said in a statement that they spent months carefully vetting hundreds of applicants for the role and that the school’s 15-member presidential search committee “unanimously recommended United States Senator Dr. Ben Sasse as the sole finalist to become the University of Florida’s 13th president.”
Ryan Saavedra contributed to this report.