Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a prominent voice in the Republican Party who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, plans to resign from the Senate by the end of the year to take the job. of President of the University. of Florida, according to a source close to the deliberations.
The move caught Republicans off guard considering he was just re-elected in 2020 and will give the state’s GOP governor a chance to make an appointment to fill the vacancy. Sasse, a conservative member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, often votes with his party, but became a top critic of Trump following the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a crowd of pro- Trump.
Sasse made little secret of the frustration he felt with the Senate and the changing nature of the Republican Party. He explained his decision to vote to convict Trump by saying the former president’s lies about the election “had consequences” and were bringing the country “dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis.” He was one of seven Republican senators vote to convict trump after the House of Representatives impeached him for incitement to insurrection.
A resignation by Sasse would not change the balance of power in the Senate, with his seat to be temporarily filled by a nomination made by incumbent Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican.
The senator informed close friends and advisers earlier this week that he was likely to leave his Senate seat for a possible position at the University of Florida.
He made the announcement on Thursday with KFAB radio during an interview with a former Senate staffer, who now hosts a conservative talk show in Omaha.
In a report, Sasse praised the university and said he was “excited to be in conversation with the leaders of this special community about how we can together build a vision for UF to be the university the most dynamic, daring and forward-looking of the country”.
The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee voted unanimously to nominate Sasse as their only runner up for President from the university, the source said. Now Sasse will go to Florida and meet with students and staff. Then there must be a vote by the University of Florida Board of Trustees and Board of Governors to formalize the process. All of this should happen over the next few weeks and into November.
“When he accepts this offer, he will resign,” the source said. “We expect that to happen by the end of the year.”
In A declaration released by the university, Rahul Patel, Chairman of the Presidential Research Committee, said, “Ben brings intellectual curiosity, a belief in the power and potential of America’s universities, and an unparalleled record of leadership spanning higher education, government and the private sector.”
Sasse has long been critical of the workings and functioning of the Senate. After winning re-election in 2020, he told friends he was unlikely to run for the seat again.
Nebraska Republicans who worried about who Ricketts would nominate to temporarily fill his seat.
While there are few instances in recent decades of a governor appointing himself to the Senate, a search of Senate records shows it has happened a handful of times over the past century.
A Ricketts adviser said he would assess potential candidates in anticipation of Sasse’s resignation and have a candidate ready to appoint when the time comes.
This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.