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Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse to Resign His Senate Seat to Become University of Florida President, Source Tells CNN

According to a source familiar with the discussions, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a prominent Republican Party figure who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, plans to resign from the Senate by the end of the year to become president of the University of Florida.

Given that he was recently re-elected in 2020, Republicans were caught off guard by the move, which will allow the state’s Republican governor to nominate someone to fill the position. Sasse, a conservative member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, frequently votes with his party but emerged as a vocal Trump critic in the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Sasse has made no secret of his displeasure with the Senate and the changing makeup of the Republican Party. He justified his vote to convict Trump by claiming that the former President’s lies about the election had “consequences” and brought the country “dangerously close to a deadly constitutional catastrophe.” He was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump after the House impeached him for inciting an insurgency.

A resignation by Sasse would not impact the Senate’s balance of power, since his seat would be temporarily filled by an appointment made by outgoing Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican. The senator told close friends and advisers earlier this week that he was considering leaving the Senate for a position at the University of Florida.

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He made the news on KFAB radio on Thursday during an interview with a former Senate aide who now broadcasts a conservative talk program in Omaha. Sasse lauded the institution in a statement, saying he is “delighted to be in dialogue with the leadership of this extraordinary community about how we could together establish a vision for UF to be the nation’s most vibrant, bold, and forward-thinking university.”

According to the source, the University of Florida’s presidential search committee unanimously chose Sasse as their lone finalist for president. Sasse will now travel to Florida to speak with students and faculty. The University of Florida board of trustees and board of governors must then vote to formalize the procedure. All of this is likely to occur over the next few weeks and into November.

“If he takes that offer, he will quit,” stated the insider. “We expect this to happen by the end of the year.” “Ben brings intellectual curiosity, a belief in the power and potential of American universities, and an unmatched track record of leadership spanning higher education, government, and the private sector,” said Rahul Patel, chair of the presidential search committee, in a statement released by the university.

Sasse has long been critical of how the Senate works and performs. After being re-elected in 2020, he assured pals that he would not run for the seat again. Nebraska Republicans were buzzing over who Ricketts would select to replace his seat temporarily.

While there have been few occurrences in recent decades of a governor appointing himself to the Senate, a study of Senate archives reveals that it has occurred a few times throughout the last century. Ricketts’ adviser said he would analyze possible candidates in advance of Sasse’s resignation and have a candidate ready to name when the time came.

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