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Nebraska Sen. Sasse rebuked by state’s Republican committee

February 28, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Republicans reprimanded U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse for his work in Washington, D.C., but stopped short of censuring him Saturday for his outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump.

Sasse was one of just seven Republicans who voted last month to convict Trump at his impeachment trial, and he has been openly critical of Trump, drawing criticism from some Nebraska Republicans who wanted him to be loyal to party candidates.

The Omaha World-Herald reported the state GOP’s Central Committee approved a resolution Saturday that expresses “deep disappointment and sadness” about Sasse’s approach to the job he was just reelected to in November and urges him to represent “the people of Nebraska to Washington and not Washington to the people of Nebraska.”

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The committee had censured Sasse once before, in March 2016, after he leveled other criticism against then-candidate Trump.

Sasse dismissed the resolution in a statement after the vote.

“There are lots of good people involved in party activism, and I care about them. But most Nebraskans don’t think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude,” Sasse said.

Several other U.S. senators have also faced criticism from rank-and-file Republicans after last month’s impeachment vote. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey have all been rebuked by their respective state parties.

Sasse has said that Nebraska party activists were “hacked off” that he condemned Trump’s statements to a crowd just before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He also defended his voting record in the Senate as one of the most conservative over the past six years.

In 2019, Sasse toned down his criticism of Trump when he was running for reelection against a pro-Trump primary challenger. Trump later endorsed Sasse, saying he had done a “wonderful job” representing Nebraska. But a year later, he called on Republicans to replace the senator after Sasse criticized him again.

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Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen told his fellow Republicans Saturday that he believes the resolution will be hard for Sasse to brush off and could make it hard for him to run again in the state.

“I don’t want this guy living rent-free in my head anymore. Put him in the rear-view mirror,” Evnen said.

But others at the state party meeting said they would have preferred a formal censure of Sasse instead of the critical resolution. Carol Friesen, chairwoman of the Lincoln County GOP, said she thinks Republicans in western Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District will be unhappy the state party didn’t formally censure Sasse this time.