Former U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) officially resigned from the Senate on Sunday after reports broke last year that the congressman would pursue higher education opportunities.
Sasse, who has served as senator for Nebraska since 2015, resigned after accepting a position to become president of the University of Florida, where he will reportedly earn a salary of $1 million.
The Republican politician delivered his farewell address from the Senate floor last week, saying that he never planned on spending a lifetime in Washington after eight years of public service.
“That’s not what our founders envisioned for the people they would send to the federal city,” Sasse said. “They envisioned, rather, congressmen, senators, and presidents who thought of D.C. as a temporary stay.”
“Washington is a place to do a good bit of neighbor-loving work, but then to go back home to the more permanent work of life and flesh and blood whole communities,” he added.
Sasse voted with six other Republican senators to convict former President Donald Trump after the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
Trump called the Nebraska senator “Little Ben Sasse” at a May rally in the congressman’s home state, adding Sasse became a “grandstanding, little-respected senator.”
During his farewell speech, Sasse acknowledged that his relationship with Nebraskans had some “marked ups and downs” over the last eight years, making him “the most censured public official in the history of Nebraska.”
“Many times, it felt like a noogie and a slap and a head butt and a hug all at once,” he said.
Shortly after news broke of Sasse’s forthcoming retirement, the senator revealed that he would become the next president at the University of Florida.
The university said in a statement that it had 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.”
Former Nebraska Republican Governor Pete Ricketts announced last month he intends to seek his successor’s appointment to become the state’s next U.S. senator to replace Sasse.
“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 [Jim] Pillen’s consideration.”
Sasse, who won a second term in 2020, would have had to run for re-election again in 2026.