[See Update Below}

With Sen. Ben Sasse's all but signed, sealed and delivered decision to head up the University of Florida, speculation is now turning to who will take Sasse's seat and topping the list is Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Ricketts ran and lost a 2006 bid for the Senate, so he's clearly shown an interest in the job, interest that is likely to spark a series of questions.

Topping that list: Can Ricketts appoint himself to the job?

Once Sasse's resignation takes effect, the governor names his successor.

Depending on the timing of Sasse's resignation that would leave the appointment up to Ricketts or Jim Pillen, who is the heavy odds-on favorite to replace Ricketts in the governor's mansion after the November election. Ricketts backed Pillen in the GOP primary.

News Channel Nebraska has asked Ricketts to comment on all this, but so far his office has not provided comment.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen, however, has responded, noting that "it appears that Section 32-565(3) of the Nebraska Revised Statutes would apply to the filling of the vacancy."

“Within 45 days of a vacancy arising, the Governor would appoint a qualified Nebraskan to fill the vacancy. That person would serve until January 2025. An election would be held in 2024 to fill the seat for the remaining two years of the term. The person appointed by the Governor to fill the seat would be eligible to run at that time.

“An election for the regular six-year term of the seat would be held in 2026.” 


NCN asked Gov. Ricketts if he's interested in taking Sasse's seat and if he could appoint himself to the job. A spokesperson for Ricketts tells us: "We aren't going to speculate at this point."  

Ricketts did issue this statement: “I appreciate Senator Sasse‘s service to our state and nation. He would make an excellent president for the University of Florida. He has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate and we need more conservative voices in our universities. Senator Sasse is also incredibly smart and has the experience and a clear passion for higher education. I wish him luck as the University of Florida makes their consideration.”