Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen has appointed Pete Ricketts to replace the former senator.Ben Sass


Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (right) on Thursday named former Gov. Pete Ricketts (right) to replace former Sen. Ben Sasse (right), who resigned this week to become University of Florida president.

Ricketts will serve two more years in Saas’s term and then must contest a special election in November 2024 to fill the remaining two years of Saas’s six-year term. Ricketts said Thursday he is committed to running for a full six-year term in 2024 and 2026.

From 2015 until last week, Ricketts served two terms as governor of Nebraska. Term limits prevented Ricketts from seeking re-election last year, but his early endorsement of Pillen from a crowded Republican field helped bring Pillen to the governor’s mansion.

Ricketts beat out eight other finalists — all Republicans — who applied to replace Sass, Pillen said. The governor pushed back on criticism that the replacement process might look like a “backroom deal,” given Ricketts’ support for Pillen’s gubernatorial campaign.

“Anyone who knows me knows that’s not part of my DNA. It just doesn’t work,” says Pillen. “The integrity of the process and the commitment to the process is a top priority.”

Sass formally resigned from his seat on Sunday. Before Ricketts was sworn in, the Senate remained split 51-48, with Democrats holding a three-seat majority. On Thursday, Pillen suggested that Ricketts would be sworn in on Jan. 1. twenty three.

Ricketts said he shared Sasse’s conservative values ​​and would focus on controlling government spending and ensuring a strong national defense. He also said his goal was to help bring “civility and respect” to a polarized Senate.

“That’s who we are as Nebraskans,” Ricketts said. “Your Excellency of Nebraska, we’ve been working hard to make government work for the people. That’s what we have to do in Washington, DC”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday praised Ricketts’ “credible record” and said he looked forward to working closely with him “over the next few years.”

“Governor Pillen could not have found a more capable leader to take the baton from our colleague Senator Sasse and fight for the Cornhusker state,” McConnell said in a statement. Keats has a proven track record. He combines business acumen with a strong commitment to public service.”

The Senate faces potential turmoil in 2024, when 23 Senate seats held by Democratic caucuses and 10 Republicans face re-election. Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow made a surprise announcement last week that she would not seek re-election in 2024, creating a vacant seat in swing Michigan.

In California, a race for a Senate seat. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) is shaping her own candidacy — though Feinstein, 89, has yet to say whether she will seek re-election in 2024.

Tuesday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced she would be running for Feinstein’s seat. A number of other California Democrats are also said to be interested in running for the Senate, including Representatives. Ro Khanna, Adam B. Schiff, and Barbara Lee.

Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post that “California deserves an accomplished and progressive visionary in its senator.”

“While the U.S. Senate is severely short of people of color, especially Black women, my focus today is on helping Californians stay safe during this extreme weather and combating the extreme agenda of House Republicans,” she added.

Dylan Wells contributed to this report.

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