Benjamin Eric "Ben" Sasse (pronounced sass; born February 22, 1972) is a Republican politician who is the junior United States Senator from Nebraska. Previously, he served as the 15th President of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska from December 2010 until December 2014. On November 4, 2014, Sasse was elected to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mike Johanns, defeating David Domina by a margin of 64.8–31.1%.
Early life and education
Sasse graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1994, with a bachelor’s degree in government. He also studied at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, during the fall of 1992 on a junior year abroad program.
Sasse graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1998, with a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. and graduated from Yale University with a Master of Arts degree (M.A.), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), all from the Department of History in 2004.Sasse’s dissertation, “The Anti-Madalyn Majority: Secular Left, Religious Right, and the Rise of Reagan's America (Madalyn Murray O'Hair)” won the Theron Rockwell Field (best dissertation) and the George Washington Egleston (history) Prizes.
Career and politics
From September 1994 to November 1995, Sasse worked as an associate consultant at the management consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group. For the next year, Sasse served as consultant/executive director for the Christians United For Reformation (CURE). During Sasse's tenure, CURE merged with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE), and Sasse became executive director of ACE in Anaheim, California.
From January 2004 to January 2005, Sasse served as chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy in Washington, D.C. and as a part-time assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin by commuting to Austin to teach. Sasse left the Department of Justice in 2005 to serve as chief of staff to Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) from January 2005 to July 2005.
Sasse then advised the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC, on national security issues from July 2005 to September 2005 as a consultant. Sasse moved to Austin, Texas, to resume his professorship full-time from September 2005 to December 2006.
From December 2006 to December 2007, Sasse served as counselor to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, DC, where he advised the Secretary on a broad spectrum of health policy issues, from affordable healthcare access to food safety and security.
In July 2007, Sasse was nominated by President George W. Bush to the post of Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His appointment was confirmed by the Senate in December 2007 and served until the end of the Bush Administration in January 2009. During his tenure at HHS, Sasse took unpaid leave from the University of Texas.
During 2009, Sasse was advising private equity clients and health care investors and teaching at the University of Texas. In October 2009, Sasse officially joined the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Center for Politics and Governance as a fellow, before being appointed president of Midland University.
Sasse was announced as the 15th president of Midland University in October 2009. At the age of 37, he became one of the youngest chief executives in American higher education when he took over leadership of the 128-year-old institution in the spring of 2010. He was officially installed as President on December 10, 2010.
In 2011, Midland introduced a program guaranteeing that participating students would graduate in four years. The school's freshman enrollment increased by 32% from fall 2011 to fall 2012; Sasse attributed this growth, in part, to the new policy.
During Sasse's tenure at Midland, enrollment more than doubled from a low of 590 in 2009 to 1,288 in 2013. During the same time, Midland went “from a seven-figure deficit to seven-figure surpluses.” When Sasse announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate, he offered to resign his post at Midland. Instead, the Board asked him to stay at Midland under a partial leave of absence; in October 2013, Sasse's employment contract was amended to reduce his presidential duties and salary.
In October 2013, Sasse officially announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat occupied by Republican Mike Johanns, who announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2014. As of October 2013, Sasse's fundraising total of nearly $815,000 from individual donors in his first quarter broke Nebraska's previous record of $526,000 from individual donors, set in 2007 by Johanns while he was sitting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
In announcing his Senate candidacy, Sasse expressed strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. "Obamacare"), describing himself as "the anti-Obamacare candidate", later declaring that "[i]f it lives, America as we know it will die." Sasse's campaign website indicated that he was pro-life, stating "even one abortion is too many". The website did not refer explicitly to same-sex marriage, but states "Ben believes marriage is between one man & one woman..."
Primary opponent Shane Osborn questioned the depth of Sasse's opposition to the ACA, publicizing articles and speeches delivered by Sasse during and after the passage of the measure through Congress; according to the Omaha World-Herald, "Osborn's campaign appears intent on questioning whether Sasse is a true conservative." The Osborn campaign cited, among other pieces, a 2009 Bloomberg Businessweek column entitled "Health-Care Reform: The Rush to Pass a Bad Bill" stating that "There's an emerging consensus that this [an individual mandate] might be a good idea", and a 2010 speech in which Sasse stated that Republicans would probably lack the votes to repeal the ACA, stating that "a middle class entitlement has never been repealed", and opining that Republicans had failed to offer a useful alternative to the ACA, preferring to stage "symbolic repeal votes". Sasse's response to the Osborn campaign's assertions was that in his articles and speeches, he was describing the political landscape rather than giving his own opinions on the merits of the ACA's provisions; to a World-Herald reporter, he declared "I have never changed my position on thinking Obamacare is a bad idea".
On May 13, 2014, Sasse won 92 of 93 counties and secured the Republican nomination with 109,829 votes, or 49.4% of all votes cast; banker Sid Dinsdale came in second, with 49,829 votes (22.4%), followed by former state treasurer Shane Osborn, with 46,850 votes (21.1%).
Sasse assumed office as a United States Senator following the expiration of the term of Mike Johanns on January 3, 2015. He was officially sworn in when the 114th United States Congress convened on January 6, 2015.
Sasse has been appointed to serve on the following committees in the 114th Congress:
- Chairman, Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Joint Economic Committee
- Special Committee on Aging
- "Ben Sasse Bio". Sarpy County Republican Party. Retrieved 2014-12-16. Archived 2014-12-16 at Wayback Machine.
- Walton, Don. "Ben Sasse: Getting to know you". Lincoln Journal Star. 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- "Office of the President". Midland University. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
- "Groundbreaking President to Resign". Midland University. 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
- "National election results 2014". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Sasse, Benjamin, "Biographical Information" Appendix to Hearing re Nomination of Dr. Benjamin Sasse, pp. 78–84. U.S. House. Committee on the Finance. Washington: Government Printing Office 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- " Dissertations By Year". Yale University. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- Maruina, Todd, "Conference of Top Evangelical Leaders Calls Evangelical Movement to Repentance for Liberal Theological Drifts". United Reformed News Service 2006-05-21. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "Evaluation: Permformance Improvement 2008". U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
- "Personnel Announcement". The White House. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "Report on the Activities of the Committee on Finance During the 110th Congress". Committee Report 13 of 50, Senate Report 111-013. United States Senate. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- K. Weems & B. Sasse, "Is Government Health Insurance Cheap?" Wall Street Journal. 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) & Benjamin Sasse, "Do Healthcare Reformers Fear A Reading Public?" Forbes. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- "LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Ben Sasse Joins Center for Politics and Governance As Fellow". University of Texas. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- O'Brien, Maggie. "Midland U's 4-year graduation guarantee credited for record freshman class". Omaha World-Herald. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- Moring, Roseann (2014-04-07). "Ben Sasse says he can whip government into shape". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
- United States Senate Financial Disclosures. United States Senate. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- Tysver, Robynn. "If Obamacare survives, U.S. won't, Ben Sasse says as he officially launches Senate bid". Omaha World-Herald. 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- Tysver, Robynn (2013-10-15). "Donors spread funds across Senate race, though Ben Sasse far ahead of other candidates". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- Ben Sasse (2013-12-03). "Ben Sasse: I'm running to repeal the Obamacare worldview". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "Defending the Unborn". Sasse for Nebraska. Archived from the original on 2014-04-18.
- "Issues". Sasse for Nebraska. Retrieved 2014-10-19. Archived 2014-10-17 at archive.org
- Burnett, James R. "Opponents scour Ben Sasse's old writings for fodder". Omaha World-Herald. 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
- Sasse, Benjamin E. "Health-Care Reform: The Rush to Pass a Bad Bill". Bloomberg Businessweek. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
- Zavadil, Chris. "Sasse speaks at health care summit". Fremont Tribune. 2010-11-06. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Walton, Don (2014-10-19). "Sasse is new Republican voice". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
- "Nebraska Primary Election Results". New York Times. No date on story. Retrieved 2014-10-20. Archived 2014-05-24 at archive.org.
- "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: General Election, November 4, 2014." Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-01-08. Archived 2015-01-08 at Wayback Machine.
- "Senate Republican Committee Assignments for the 114th Congress". Senate Republican Conference. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2015-02-19. Archived 2015-02-02 at Wayback Machine.
- "Nebraska's Sasse to lead US Senate agriculture subcommittee". Scottsbluff Star-Herald. 2015-01-29. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
- U.S. Senator Ben Sasse official U.S. Senate site
- Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate campaign website
- Ben Sasse at DMOZ
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Nebraska
|United States Senate|
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska
Served alongside: Deb Fischer
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
| Succeeded by|