Ben Sasse President of The University of Florida

According to two people familiar with the Nebraska Republican’s plans, Ben Sasse is likely to accept a job as president of the University of Florida and resign his Senate seat in the near future.

Under state law, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts would then appoint a replacement for Sasse, with the seat then up for a special election in 2024. According to one source familiar with Sasse’s plans, Ricketts himself is being considered as a potential appointee for the seat.

Ben Sasse
Pic credit: Google/ Ben Sasse

The University of Florida confirmed Sasse’s plans in a press release issued Thursday, announcing him as the position’s sole finalist. Given the length of the university’s process, the precise timing of his future resignation is unknown, but it is expected to occur this year.

Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse and his wife have been “pursued by wonderful institutions for the past two years, but we’ve resisted being a finalist,” according to Sasse. This time is unique because the University of Florida is unique: I believe Florida is the most interesting university in America right now.”

The second semester Sasse made a name for himself in Congress as a consistent Donald Trump critic as well as a reliable conservative vote. Despite his interest in academia, his resignation will come as a surprise after running for reelection in 2020 and the possibility of one day seeking higher office.

Ben Sasse was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial, following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. His resignation will open up a safe Republican seat in a red state; in addition to Ricketts, Nebraska GOP Reps. Don Bacon and Mike Flood may be considered for the position.

Ricketts stated that Ben Sasse “has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate, and our universities need more conservative voices.” Senator Sasse is also extremely intelligent, with experience and a clear passion for higher education.”

In terms of a possible self-appointment, Ricketts spokesperson Alex Reuss stated, “We aren’t going to speculate at this point.” Senator Sasse is currently a sitting U.S. senator, and no appointment has been made.”

According to Republicans familiar with Sasse’s future plans, Ben Sasse has been interested in an academic position for quite some time. Before running for Senate in 2020, there was speculation that he would seek an open position as president of the University of Nebraska; prior to running for Senate, he was president of Midland University.

In an interview in February 2021, as his state party prepared to censure him for his impeachment vote (he was eventually reprimanded), Sasse spoke at length about his views on education — and how the Democrats’ coronavirus aid package fell short of his expectations.

“I guess I can’t use the word progressive,” Sasse said, “but I care deeply about poverty and the fact that lower-middle-class people are not well-served by the education establishment, either at the K-12 or higher-ed levels.” “So you take a look at this package. Is this really to assist poor children? No way.”

In recent years, he has kept a low profile in the Senate, expressing frustration with the chamber and politics in general. Sasse has attempted to engage his colleagues in debate on the Senate floor on several occasions, and he claims that serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee is the best part of his job.

After his first full term in the Senate, he and his family debated whether he should even run for reelection in 2020, and “everyone was between 51 percent and 75 percent that we thought this was our calling.” As a result, no one was less than 50-50. And yet, nobody was even close to 95 percent.”

Ben Sasse
Pic credit: Google

“This organisation should be much more effective than it is.” “And the only effective part of every day is the Intel work,” he said in the 2021 interview.

Ben Sasse clashed with Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy on the Senate floor in March over the Connecticut Democrat’s tweet criticising Republicans for criticising President Joe Biden’s handling of the Ukraine war while voting against a government spending bill that included aid to Kyiv.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Uthmeier, was Sasse’s sherpa throughout the university search process. Uthmeier was put in touch with Sasse several months ago after he quietly expressed interest in becoming UF president. More than 55,000 students attend Florida’s flagship university.

“He had been sending smoke signals for a while, it was known interest was there,” said a Florida Republican operative familiar with the process. “I’m not sure who put him in contact with James, but he took it from there.”

Uthmeier did not respond.

DeSantis has no direct involvement in the process, but he is responsible for appointing the panel that will now consider hiring Sasse. After a national search and over 700 candidates, Ben Sasse was chosen as the sole finalist.

During the 2022 legislative session, the Florida GOP-led Legislature approved a bill that allows universities in the state to conduct searches for university presidents outside of Florida’s public records and open meeting laws.

Ben Sasse, in addition to his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee, worked with a bipartisan group of senators this year to reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act in response to the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. He is one of the bill’s original Republican co-sponsors.

“Ben Sasse is a good, smart, principled person,” Senator Brian Schatz said (D-Hawaii). “I can’t think of a single issue on which we agreed, but he is someone I admire for always having the courage of his convictions, always being thoughtful, and always standing up for the rule of law.”

Despite voting against her nomination, Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently attended Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s investiture ceremony.

Ben Sasse later said in a statement that he would not attack the court’s credibility and wished “more of my colleagues would take a similar approach.”

“When partisans try to burn down our institutions, America doesn’t work,” he said.

Some details about Sasse’s future were first reported by Ian Swanson, a former aide who has his own show on 1110 KFAB.

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