OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Midland University President Ben Sasse said Tuesday that he has filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate next year in a bid to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Mike Johanns.
Sasse, 41, has been conducting a statewide "listening tour" to introduce himself to Nebraskans and weigh whether he would run for U.S. Senate.
He filed Monday with the Nebraska secretary of state's office and confirmed the filing Tuesday. He joins two other Republicans in the race — former Nebraska State Treasurer Shane Osborn and Omaha attorney Bart McLeay — to replace Johanns, who is not seeking re-election in 2014.
"After weeks of listening across our state, it is obvious that Nebraskans want change in government," Sasse said Tuesday in a written statement. "That means electing someone who will call nonsense on Washington's endless false promises, who actually knows how to dismantle Obamacare, and who will stand up to political leadership, regardless of party."
Sasse said he is in the process of filing federal paperwork to allow him to raise money for a campaign and hire staff. He plans to make a formal announcement in the fall, he said.
Sasse was identified as a possible Republican candidate earlier this year, when former state party chairman Mark Fahleson launched a "Draft Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate" page on Facebook. His announcement came shortly after Gov. Dave Heineman ruled out a run for the seat.
Sasse was 37 years old when he was tapped in late 2009 to lead what was then Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, making him among the youngest college presidents in the country. Since then, enrollment has soared from a low of less than 600 to more than 1,000. Sasse also oversaw the rebranding the school as Midland University and has added several new athletic programs.
Midland also is in the process of acquiring the former Dana College campus in Blair.
Sasse was born in Plainview and grew up in Fremont. He was educated at Harvard, Oxford University and St. John's before getting his Ph.D. in American political history, strategy, and management from Yale.
His dissertation on domestic politics during the Cold War won Yale's university-wide Theron Rockwell Field prize for best dissertation and the George Washington Egleston Historical Prize.
Sasse has taught at Yale and at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Before that, he served as a chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and as the chief of staff of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy.
From 2007 to 2009, Sasse served U.S. assistant secretary of health and human services under then-President George W. Bush, focusing on the federal Food and Drug Administration, Medicare and Medicaid.