Nebraska Governor Appoints Pete Ricketts to Fill Sasse’s Senate Seat

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference with State business and education leaders in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, March 13, 2020. Nebraska state officials have now confirmed 13 cases of the new coronavirus and developed a plan to order school closures for six to eight weeks if the outbreak …
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) appointed his predecessor, former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), to fill the state’s U.S. Senate seat, vacated by former Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in January. 

Term limits rendered Ricketts unable to run for reelection. Being appointed to the position was widely expected after he said he intended to seek an application for consideration for the appointment following Pillen’s announcement that he would  “seek qualified applicants” to fill the upcoming vacancy.

Sasse, a two-term senator, left his U.S. Senate seat to become the president of the University of Florida. He officially resigned from the Senate on Sunday.

Ricketts will now serve as Nebraska’s U.S. senator until January 2025. Under the Cornhusker State’s law, he will have to run in a special election during the 2024 cycle to serve the last two years of Sasse’s term before running again in 2026 if he wants to be elected for a full six-year term. 

According to the Hill, Pillen said there were 111 applicants for the Senate seat, and his office interviewed 9 of them, ultimately choosing Ricketts for his ability to win a statewide election.

“My job in this process is really, really simple: to find the best person to represent us Nebraskans,” Pillen said, adding that Ricketts has committed to running in the special election in 2024 and in 2026 for a full term, in addition to not accepting a Cabinet position from a future Republican president if asked.

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen, center, talks about his campaign after receiving an endorsement from Gov. Pete Ricketts, right on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, at the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Grant Schulte)

“Ultimately, the timing of this is very, very rigorous, and my belief in not [selecting] a placeholder and my belief in seniority being really, really important, and running statewide elections and winning statewide elections in ’24 and ’26 is rigorous and demanding, and ultimately that was a big separator,” Pillen said.

National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Steve Daines released a statement congratulating Ricketts on being appointed to the Senate.

“I want to welcome former Governor Pete Ricketts to the U.S. Senate. I look forward to working with Pete to stop Joe Biden’s harmful agenda and keep Nebraska red in 2024,” Daines said.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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