Sass said he and his wife “have been courted by great institutions for the past two years, but we’ve been turned down. This time is different, because the University of Florida is different: I think Florida is the most interesting university in America right now.”
Sass, in his second term, is known in Congress as a consistent critic of Donald Trump as well as a solid conservative vote. Despite his interest in academia, his resignation would come as a bit of a surprise following his 2020 re-election bid and the potential to one day pursue a higher position.
In Trump’s second impeachment trial, Sasse was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict the former president. 6 Attack the Capitol. His resignation would create a safe Republican seat in the red state; with the exception of Ricketts, the Nebraska Republican representative. Don Bacon and Mike Flood May also attend appointments.
Ricketts said Sasse “has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate, and our universities need more conservative voices. Senator Sasse is also very bright, with a wealth of experience and a clear passion for higher education.”
As for a potential self-appointment, Ricketts spokesman Alex Royce said: “We are not going to speculate at this time. Currently, Senator Sasse is a sitting U.S. senator with no appointment.”
Sass has been interested in academic work for some time, according to Republicans familiar with his future plans. Ahead of the 2020 campaign, there was speculation that he would seek an open position to lead the University of Nebraska. Before running for the Senate, he was president of Midland University.
In a February 2021 interview as his state prepares to condemn his impeachment vote (and he was eventually condemned), Sass detailed his views on education — and his views on Democrats coronavirus aid package Missed the market.
“I guess I can’t use the word progressive, but I’m very concerned about poverty and the fact that educational institutions are not serving the lower and middle classes well, whether it’s at K-12 or at the post-secondary-ed level,” Sasse said. “So you look at this package. Is this really meant to help poor children? Definitely not.”
He has kept a relatively low profile in the Senate in recent years, while expressing his dissatisfaction with the Senate and politics more broadly. Sass has sometimes tried to involve his colleagues in Senate debates and said serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee is the best part of his job.
He and his family fretted over whether he should run for re-election in 2020 after his first full term in the Senate, “Everyone has between 51% and 75% that it’s our mission. So no one gets 50 -50 commitment. However, no one can reach 95%.”
“This agency should be more effective than it is now. The only part of every day that really works is Intel’s work,” he said in the 2021 interview.
In one of Sasse’s most notable moments this year, he quarrelled with Sen. Chris Murphy In March, Connecticut Democrats took to Twitter to slam Republicans for criticizing President Joe Biden’s handling of the Ukraine war, while voting against a government spending bill that included aid to Kyiv.
Sasse’s Sherpas in the college search process are governors. Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Utmeier, reached out to Sass after quietly expressing interest in becoming UF president a few months ago. Florida’s flagship university enrolls more than 55,000 students.
“He’s been sending smoke signals, and people have known there’s interest there for some time,” said a Florida Republican agent familiar with the process. “I’m not sure who put him in touch with James, but once that happened, he got the connection from there.”
Utmeier declined to comment.
DeSantis had no direct role in the process, but was responsible for appointing the team that will now ultimately consider hiring Sasse. After a national search and more than 700 candidates, Sasse was selected as the only finalist.
Florida’s Republican-led legislature approved a bill during its 2022 session that would allow the state’s universities to conduct university president searches outside of Florida’s public records and public meeting laws.
In addition to his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sasse worked this year with a bipartisan group of senators to reform the 1887 election counting method, a response to Jan. 1. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. He was one of the bill’s original Republican co-sponsors.
“Ben was a kind, intelligent, principled man,” the senator said. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “I can hardly think of a single question that we agree on, but he is someone I respect because he has always stood by his beliefs, always thought through and defended the rule of law.”
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sass recently attended the inauguration of Supreme Court Justice Kaitenji Brown Jackson, even though she voted against her nomination.
In a statement shortly afterward, Sass said he would not attack the court’s credibility and hoped “more of my colleagues will take a similar approach.”
“America doesn’t work when guerrillas try to burn down our institutions,” he said.
Some details of Sasse’s future were first reported by former assistant Ian Swanson, who has his own show at 1110 KFAB.
Matt Dixon contributed to this story.