When Republican nominee and almost-certain November winner Jim Pillen takes office as governor of Nebraska in January, he will name his immediate predecessor and fellow Republican Pete Ricketts to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, several GOP sources in the state told Newsmax over the weekend.
Talk about who will go to the Senate by appointment commenced Thursday night when Republican Sen. Ben Sasse announced he would resign his office to become president of the University of Florida.
But Sasse, 50, has yet to say when he will submit his resignation. Most of the Nebraska Republicans who spoke to Newsmax on background concluded it would come in December, and thus give the governor 45 days with which to appoint a new senator.
Ricketts, 58, ruled out appointing himself over the weekend and said the choice of who to name to the Senate would be up to his successor.
"If I choose to pursue the appointment, I will leave the appointment decision to the next governor and will follow the process established for all interested candidates," Ricketts said in a statement. "It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as the governor of Nebraska. It is the greatest job in the world, and it will remain my number one focus for the remainder of my term."
Pillen had the strong backing of Ricketts and his political action committee in a hard-fought Republican primary earlier this year. Ricketts, son of Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts and himself a multi-millionaire, reportedly has presidential ambitions.
His decision to rule out appointment himself is considered a wise one. Since 1933, nine governors of states have appointed themselves to the Senate and only one went on to survive at the polls. That was Democrat Albert B. "Happy" Chandler of Kentucky, who arranged for his own appointment to fill a Senate vacancy in 1939, won a full term in 1942, and resigned to become commissioner of baseball three years later.
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