Anti-Trump GOP Member Abandons Senate Seat Midterm, Leaving Key Opening for Special Election

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Republican Senator Ben Sasse (RINO- Nebraska) officially resigned from his seat in Congress on Sunday; he said to take a position as president of the University of Florida. Speculation in political circles is that he is seeing the political winds shifting, making him feel uncomfortable.

Sasse’s replacement will hopefully be someone more conservative.

Sasse betrayed his constituents and the Republican Party platform and voted to convict President Donald J. Trump of inciting Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion in his second impeachment trial, along with seven other Republicans.

“Sasse never endorsed Trump when he first ran in 2016. In fact, both times Trump was on the ballot, Sasse says he wrote in the name of Trump running mate Mike Pence instead,” the Omaha World-Herald reported.

But the left doesn’t like him either.

Mathew Walther of the Week  wrote about Sasse and trashed him:

The Vanishing American Adult, Sen. Ben Sasse’s slick new paean to hard work and old-fashioned middle-class American family values, is the most boring book I’ve ever read.

The Nebraska Republican is, if not absolutely insufferable, the least sufferable person in the Senate. (Keep in mind that this is a body that has historically welcomed the energies of Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman, in which creatures like Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz are today permitted not only to contribute but to flourish.) Sasse is one of those “intellectual” conservatives for whom the answer to whether banks should be allowed to increase overdraft fees is to be found in the pages of Tocqueville.

In the last year and a half, Sasse has made a career branding himself as “the last honest man in the GOP,” which is journalism code for someone who makes a lot of hay about Trump’s character while inventing Principled Conservative reasons for gleefully implementing the worst parts of the administration’s agenda. Were President Trump to consider governing like Trump the candidate and propose, say, a single-payer health-care program to be financed by higher taxes on the wealthy, Sasse would dust off his Madison quotes and fire off a few tweets about the erosion of our democratic heritage. Because Trump is actually just governing like a non-tweed-wearing version of Sasse himself, right down to his bombing of Syria, Sasse is allowed to continue his world-weary posturing. But really he is just a glorified tone-policer. Don’t believe me? Try to find a single criticism of the president from Sasse that is substantive rather than stylistic (appropriately cautious-sounding procedural hang-ups about the nonsense Flynn scandal don’t count).

Sasse was no conservative; he voted with Trump only 85 percent of the time, according to the World-Herald.

Following his vote to impeach Trump, the Nebraska Republican Party stopped short of censuring him but passed a resolution critical of the senator.

“And here is the final resolution language:” Aaron Sanderford (@asanderford) posted on Twitter on February 27, 2021.

Its February 2021 resolution concluded, “Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Nebraska Republican Party Central Committee expresses its deep disappointment and sadness with respect to the service of Senator Ben Sasse and calls for an immediate readjustment whereby he represents the people of Nebraska to Washington and not Washington to the people of Nebraska and stands rebuked.”

According to CNN, Sasse was president of Midland University — a private Lutheran liberal arts college with about 1,600 students in Fremont, Nebraska — prior to his election to the Senate in 2014.

Sasse told the World-Herald he has been “pursued by a lot of universities” in recent years and declined all the offers, but the Florida spot was too good to pass up.

The Western Journal reported on Sasse’s update:

UF has an enrollment of over 60,000 students.

“South Florida is like a giant blank canvas,” he said. “And so I’m very excited about a lot of the new stuff that we’re going to build.”

It’s not clear what he was referring to. UF’s campus is in the city of Gainesville in northern Florida.

Sasse’s departure from the Senate will not change its balance of power, where the Democrats hold a 51-49 edge.

Freshly sworn-in Nebraska GOP Gov. Jim Pillen has promised to appoint a replacement by the time the Senate reconvenes on Jan. 23. Whoever is chosen will serve for two years, with a special election in November 2024 determining who will complete Sasse’s term.

Former Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, whom Pillen replaced last week, is seen as a leading candidate.

Trump appears to have a mixed relationship with Ricketts.

The former president called the then-governor a RINO for campaigning for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s re-election in May 2022.

Ricketts also supported Pillen over Trump’s pick in the Nebraska governor’s race, Charles Herbster.

“Trump calls Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts a “RINO” after Ricketts’ pick beat Trump-endorsed Charles Herbster last night,” Brent D. Griffiths (@BrentGriffiths) posted on Twitter on May 11, 2022.

“The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, have spent money both for and against Trump’s presidential runs,” The Western Journal reported.

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