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Ricketts officially takes his seat in the Senate

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Ricketts officially takes his seat in the Senate

Former Gov. Pete Ricketts was sworn into office as Nebraska's newest U.S. senator on Monday and immediately pointed to tax reduction, expansion of trade opportunities for agricultural producers and a determination to "stand up to the Chinese Communist Party" as among his priorities.

Ricketts was formally sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris in a brief ceremony with his wife, Susanne Shore, other family members and friends watching the event from the Senate gallery.

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer escorted Ricketts to the front of the Senate chamber to take the oath of office.

"There is no higher honor than serving the people of Nebraska, and representing my fellow Nebraskans in the Senate is an incredible privilege," Ricketts said in a press release.

"In state government, we've shown what a great impact conservative leadership can have, and I'm going to bring the same approach to Washington," he said.

Among his priorities in the Senate will be to "strengthen our national defense and make government work better," he said.

Ricketts' arrival in Washington places a former governor in a Nebraska Senate seat for the first time since Mike Johanns completed a single term in 2015.

Four of the five members of Nebraska's congressional delegation — all but Rep. Don Bacon — now have moved on to Washington from state government. Fischer, Rep. Mike Flood and Rep. Adrian Smith all emerged directly from the Legislature.

For Ricketts, the appointment to a Senate seat by Gov. Jim Pillen fulfilled an unsuccessful quest he first began in 2006 when he was the Republican nominee for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

Although there have been no former governors in Nebraska's delegation for the past eight years, both seats were held by former governors when Sen. Jim Exon served together with Sen. Bob Kerrey in the 1990s and when Nelson served with Johanns for four years.

Five of the last eight governors have now moved on to the Senate.

Ricketts was appointed by Pillen to the Senate seat vacated by Ben Sasse, who resigned from the Senate earlier this month to become president of the University of Florida, beginning Feb. 6, with four years remaining in his six-year Senate term.

Ricketts will serve the next two years of that term and then seek election to the final two years in 2024. He has also pledged to seek election to a full six-year term in 2026.

Nebraska voters will have the unusual opportunity to fill both Senate seats in the 2024 election when Fischer's second term comes to an end. Fischer has signaled her intention to seek a third term.

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