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Image: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

Nebraska's Ricketts is open to appointment to fill Sasse seat

“Well, we’ll see what happens,” Ricketts said in a brief interview with NBC News at the RGA conference in Orlando.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Outgoing Nebraska GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts left the door open to accepting an appointment to fill departing Sen. Ben Sasse's seat early next year.

"Well, we’ll see what happens," Ricketts said in a brief interview with NBC News at the Republican Governors Association conference when asked if he'd be open to accepting a nod. "He’s not going to resign until January so that’ll be [an incoming GOP Gov.] Jim Pillen decision."

Sasse, R-Neb., is departing the Senate to lead the University of Florida. An appointed senator would be able to serve until a special election can be held in 2024, at which point the successor would be in good position to be re-elected.

Pillen, meanwhile, advanced through a contested primary with Ricketts' endorsement against a candidate who was backed by former President Donald Trump.

Ricketts had previously sought a Senate seat in Nebraska in 2006, when he lost the general election.

Asked if he helped connect Sasse with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prior to his announcing he would leave the Senate for the University of Florida, Ricketts said he did not.

"I had no conversation with Senator Sasse or Governor DeSantis," he said. "In fact, I read about it in the paper just like everybody else, so I was just as surprised. I think Ben will do a great job. He’s a super smart guy. We need more conservative voices in higher education."