Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen appointed the state’s former Republican Governor Pete Ricketts as the Cornhusker State’s next senator on Thursday, replacing Ben Sasse, who officially resigned early this week.
Ricketts served two terms as the state’s top official from 2015 until last week when his successor moved into the governor’s mansion.
Governor Pillen personally chose Ricketts to fill the vacated Senate seat, saying he took the process to replace Sasse “incredibly seriously” because the appointee needs to “represent the people” of Nebraska, NBC reported.
Pillen said the next senator must reflect “values and ideology important to Nebraskans,” believe in “less government and fiscal accountability,” and be a “person of incredible faith, God-fearing like almost all Nebraskans.”
“It’s clear the person for the job was Sen.-designate Pete Ricketts,” he said.
According to The New York Times, Ricketts said during a news conference after Pillen appointed him that the Senate has to “hold Washington, D.C., accountable for the waste and the fraud,” adding that government needs to run more like a business “just like we’ve done here in Nebraska.”
“For me, it came down to a single question: How can I best serve the people of Nebraska and advance our conservative values?” Ricketts said in a news release, NBC reported. “In Congress, we’re in a fight for the future of our nation, and it’s a fight we have to win.”
Ricketts comes from a family heavily invested in Nebraska politics. His father, Joe Ricketts, the founder and former chief executive of the financial services company TD Ameritrade, donated to Republican candidates nationwide.
Ricketts spent approximately $1.3 million in the Republican primary for governor last year, helping Pillen defeat a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump. His appointment comes days after former U.S. Sen. Sasse officially resigned from his seat, having accepting a position to become president of the University of Florida, where he will reportedly earn a salary of $1 million.
The Republican politician delivered his farewell address from the Senate floor last week, saying that he never planned on spending a lifetime in Washington after eight years of public service.
“That’s not what our founders envisioned for the people they would send to the federal city,” Sasse said. “They envisioned, rather, congressmen, senators, and presidents who thought of D.C. as a temporary stay.”
“Washington is a place to do a good bit of neighbor-loving work, but then to go back home to the more permanent work of life and flesh and blood whole communities,” he added.
Ricketts will fill the seat until 2024, when a special election is held for the remainder of Sasse’s term, which would have ended in 2026.