Ben Sasse (R) from Nebraska officially resigned from the US Senate. Sasse was a supporter of President Donald Trump's impeachment vote on February 13, 2021, for inciting the riots of January 6, accusations he was cleared of. Sasse acknowledges that his criticisms of Trump will define his time in office.
The Senate seat will be filled with an appointment by the new Nebraska governor Jim Pillen (R) and is widely believed to succeed his predecessor, the former governor Pete Ricketts (R) who was a term-limited governor who was not eligible for re-election.
Sasse has accepted a position as the president of the University of Florida, which is said to come with an annual salary of $1 million. On October 1, Sasse said that UF was the “most interesting university in America right now.” Sasse was previously the president of the twin Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska which is an independent Lutheran school with around 1,700 students.
In his farewell speech, Sasse decried “performative BS” and”opportunistic” media reservations of politicians during evening newscasts. Sasse also discussed the way Nebraska voters have affected his feelings by saying:
“Our fight between Nebraskans and me for the last eight years has experienced several changes and ups when you awarded me victories across every county … as well later made me the most slammed by a public figure in Nebraska in the following six years. Then you did it again two years later to elect me again. It was often the sound of a slap as well as a head butt and an embrace all in one go.”
The plot gets more complicated. The Guardian reported in October that Florida's Governor, and Trump's likely primary contender for the presidential nomination Ron DeSantis ®, may be behind Sasse's move.
NBC News reported that Sasse's decision was the consequence of Republican rivalries. According to “a top Republican insider”, the publication claimed that Florida governor Ron DeSantis was responsible for the move and was attempting to make it draw attention to Trump.
Marc Caputo, a reporter, said: “In May, Trump stated that he regretted his support for Ben Sasse. The man who works for DeSantis at UF has arranged for Sasse's appointment. Everyone knows about this: Ron and Don, one top Republican insider says to me, echoing others.”
In October, the Florida Times-Union reported that DeSantis had signed legislation earlier in 2022 that made applications for the college presidency private, “effectively cloaking the process in secrecy until the very end stages.”
It is unclear how Sasse's position in UF could affect the presidential race but it could be more than an attempt to smear Trump. To no one's surprise, Trump shot back on Truth Social following DeSantis' announcement of Sasse's selection.
“Great good news for the United States Senate as well as the Country itself. Liddle' Ben Sasse, the light-hearted Senator from the magnificent State of Nebraska will soon be resigning. He will be stepping down. The University of Florida will soon regret hiring the senator as their president … We've plenty of poor and unproductive RINOs in our ranks.”
As tensions rise in the race to the presidential election, a new Senator to replace Sasse will be a welcomed change for the popular Republican base which is the same one which voted out RINO Liz Cheney for similar actions.