Thursday, Republican Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen appointed his immediate predecessor Pete Ricketts to fill the remaining two years of departed Senator Ben Sasse’s term.
“Gov. Ricketts assured me that no matter who calls for a different job, he is committed to the United States Senate,” Pillen said at a press conference. “No matter who calls him to be a vice president of the United States, who calls him to be … Secretary of State or any other thing, he’s committed to this seat; and he and Susanne have committed to winning elections at a minimum of 10 years, and I’m praying it’s gonna be longer than that, and you’re gonna love it there, Susanne.”
As expected, @jim_pillen today is naming Pete Ricketts the next U.S. senator from #Nebraska. Here they are walking into the press conference from the Governor’s Office now occupied by Pillen. Ricketts was one of Pillen’s top supporters in a tough GOP primary race. pic.twitter.com/cSbdBnLRsP
— Aaron Sanderford (@asanderford) January 12, 2023
Sasse, who was reelection in 2020, resigned on Sunday to become the president of the University of Florida. Ricketts will serve until 2024, at which point a special election will be called for the balance of the term, which will conclude in 2026. Ricketts campaigned for Senate in 2006, and he is expected to run in the upcoming special election.
“There’s a fallacy in Washington, D.C., that government can’t work and we have to expect failure, but that’s not true. We proved that’s not true here in Nebraska,” Ricketts said at the press conference. “We need to hold Washington, D.C., accountable for making sure they’re providing the same level of high service that we do in state government.”
Critics of Ricketts’ anticipated appointment asserted that the former governor purchased the position. Ricketts contributed $100,000 directly to Pillen’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign and almost $1 million to a Pillen-supporting political action group. During the press conference, Pillen refuted these reports by stating that he interviewed nine candidates for the position.
“Anybody who knows me, that’s not part of my DNA. Just doesn’t work,” Pillen said. “Integrity of the process and commitment to the process was highest priority.”