Nebraska Gov. Pillen to announce Senate appointment

Former Gov. Ricketts leads a slate of familiar names in Nebraska politics
Gov. Jim Pillen says he will announce Sen. Ben Sasse's replacement tomorrow.
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 2:28 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Jim Pillen will announce his pick for Nebraska’s next Senator on Thursday morning.

His office issued a news release Wednesday saying the announcement would take place at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Watch tomorrow’s livestream on our website, in our apps, and on our Facebook page.

Pillen said in a news conference Tuesday morning that he was still interviewing candidates. Ben Sasse formally vacated the position Sunday.

Gov. Pillen on press relations

At the conclusion of his first news conference, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen addressed the press and took questions. Coverage of Tuesday's news conference:

Posted by 6 News WOWT on Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The current governor, Pete Ricketts, who supported Pillen’s campaign, is among the applicants.

There are only 100 men and women serving in the U.S. Senate — no doubt it’s a prestigious position. When Sasse resigned this month to the reigns at the University of Florida, that leaves one of those all-important seats vacant.

Potential picks

6 News compiled a list last month of potential candidates for the appointment.

Gov. Pete Ricketts remains the heaviest hitter on the list; he is term-limited in a couple of weeks.

Other republicans include retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Glen Weaver, who recently ran for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry’s U.S. House seat; and Larry Bolinger, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress and Attorney General the last few years.

On the Democratic side: Ann Ashford, who has run for Congress; and Angie Philips, who has run for U.S. Senate in Nebraska before.

Ricketts’ has said his conservative leadership — running government more like a business — is what is needed in Washington, D.C. To many insiders — and outsiders — he is the heavy favorite to replace Sasse, whose time in D.C. mirrors the eight years Ricketts has spent as Nebraska’s CEO.

Ricketts also spent millions supporting Pillen’s candidacy — and it’s Pillen’s decision who spends the next two years as the state’s junior senator.

6 News asked some of the other candidates if they see it the same way.

Republican Weaver believes his military background has him positioned well, and said he doesn’t think Pillen has made up his mind. Political observers say it’s even a longer shot for a Democrat to get the appointment since the guy picking is a Republican.

But Democrat Ashford, wife of late Congressman Brad Ashford, said the new incoming governor has a more independent streak than we may realize.