Mitch McConnell says he wants Ricketts to replace Sasse if the senator leaves

Oct. 12, 2022, 8 a.m. ·

Gov. Pete Ricketts talks with a man in uniform, who's filling up his vehicle with fuel
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, told CNN he wants Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts to replace U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse. (Photo by Emily Diesing, Nebraska Public Media News)

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he's spoken with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts about replacing U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse if the congressman leaves to become the president of the University of Florida, according to CNN.

McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, told CNN Tuesday that he urged Ricketts to run for the seat.

“I’ve talked to Governor Ricketts,” McConnell said. “We’re hoping that he ends up in the Senate. Exactly how that happens under Nebraska law is yet to be determined.”

Sasse faced protests and a strong line of questioning Monday at his first public appearance on the University of Florida’s campus. The Republican senator was selected as the only finalist for the school’s presidency last week.

A few hundred protestors gathered outside and later stormed the room where a meeting with students was cut short because of the disruptions, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The protestors, mostly Florida students, demanded Sasse seek a different job that better aligned with his politics, among other things.

According to the Nebraska Examiner, sources close to Sasse have said they expect him to resign his seat in late November or early December if he gets the job. If Sasse resigns, Nebraska's governor will have 45 days to appoint a replacement. Sasse is scheduled to return to Florida for a final interview with UF's Board of Trustees on November 1.

Ricketts said last Friday that he will let the next Nebraska governor appoint Sasse's replacement. Republican Jim Pillen, endorsed by Ricketts, is widely expected to beat Democratic challenger Carol Blood in the gubernatorial race.

"It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as the governor of Nebraska," Ricketts said in a statement. "It is the greatest job in the world, and it will remain my number one focus for the remainder of my term."