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The Antelope

Kansan lists top picks for Ben Sasse’s replacement




With the expected resignation of Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse later this year to become the next University of Florida president, Gov. Pete Ricketts has one unexpected issue to solve before moving out of the governor’s mansion: appointing a new senator.

This sets off a process where Ricketts can appoint someone to fill the role for two years, when a special election is held to fill the remainder of Sasse’s term. Of course Ricketts could fill the position himself, but there’s also a couple of options if he decides to focus on a possible presidential run. Here’s a few good Republican picks to hold the position down until a special election.


Hilgers, the speaker of the Senate and Republican candidate for attorney general, has the unusual support from Gov. Ricketts and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley. Ricketts and Foley split their support in the Republican primaries for governor, with Ricketts supporting Jim Pillen and Foley supporting Charles Herbster in the primary.

Like multiple state races, Hilgers is not running against a Democrat. His opposition is Larry Bolinger from the fringe Legal Marijuana NOW Party. If Hilgers decided to make a career of Washington, he could become a staple up in Washington D.C., clocking in at age 43.


Of all three Nebraska’s congressional districts, Bacon holds the closest race in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which voted for Biden in 2020. The district also has the polls in a tossup between him and Democrat Tony Vargas. Bacon has held some more liberal stances, such as voting for the 2022 Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify same-sex marriage in federal law. He also joined the Democrats to establish the Jan. 6 commission. Even though his shade of red is sunsetting into a lighter purple, he might still lose his spot to Vargas come November.

Bacon would be the perfect candidate if Ricketts decides that a seasoned Washington veteran needs to hold down the Senate until an election.


Promoting Adrian Smith to the Senate would work more along the geographic political lines of Nebraska. Right now, both senators reside east of Lincoln. Sen. Deb Fischer resides in Lincoln and Sasse is from Fremont. Smith is a Scottsbluff native, and the dean of Nebraska’s congressional delegation. He has congressional experience like Bacon, but a much safer house seat, with the 3rd District holding a +29 Republican swing in the Cook Political Index.  

It’d be no problem finding a candidate in the 3rd District to replace Smith in Congress either, with many sound candidates in the unicameral. Smith is also a younger candidate who could spend a while in Washington if he and the voters so choose.

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