Sarpy County Republicans have joined in the effort to censure U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse for criticizing former President Donald Trump.
The local Republican Party in Nebraska’s most populous GOP-leaning county voted 2-1 on Thursday to join Republicans from Scotts Bluff and Hitchcock Counties in expressing displeasure with Sasse over his critiques of Trump.
Papillion resident Robert Anthony attended the Sarpy meeting via Zoom and voted for censure. He said he’s tired of the disconnect between the beliefs of “liberty-loving” Republicans, and some who make it to Washington, D.C.
He and other Republicans said they were upset at Sasse for what they saw as Sasse’s opportunistic support for the Republican president during Sasse’s GOP primary, followed by the senator’s renewed criticisms of Trump after he defeated primary opponent Matt Innis, a staunch Trump supporter.
“Sasse says he’s just here to defend the Constitution, but Sarpy Republicans feel like people are trampling on the Constitution all the time,” Anthony said.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, during his coronavirus press briefing on Friday, said he has heard frustrations from a lot of Nebraska Republicans and urged them to reach out to Sasse and his office. But he defended Sasse’s voting record as one of the most conservative in the Senate.
Sarpy Republicans said they object to Sasse’s statements blaming Trump for riling up a crowd of supporters before they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, while Congress was certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.
Trump and his legal team spent months contesting election results from key swing states in a failed attempt to keep those results from being certified.
Sasse criticized those efforts, noting that Trump’s legal team had tried and failed 60 times to persuade judges, even Trump appointees, that they had sufficient evidence to back their claims of widespread election fraud.
Sasse, in a video released Thursday, defended his statements about Trump as truthful.
“Personality cults aren’t conservative, conspiracy theories aren’t conservative, lying that an election has been stolen isn’t conservative, acting like politics is a religion isn’t conservative,” Sasse said.
The timing and tone of Sasse’s video statement upset Sarpy partisans who are worried about the party looking divided.
Sarpy’s censure proposal focused largely on what it described as Sasse’s “character attacks” on Trump, including the senator calling out some of Trump’s statements as lies and describing some of his actions as “wicked.”
The censure language also says that a majority of Republicans believe Trump would have won in key swing states if not for “tainted” results that were the product of “illegal and unconstitutional election law changes and organized Democrat Party fraud.”
Similar censure proposals have been sent to the Nebraska Republican Party by members of the party’s State Central Committee, which will discuss and vote on formally censuring Sasse when it meets Feb. 13 in Columbus.
Christian Mirch, chair of the Douglas County Republican Party, said Friday that it has not received a motion to censure Sasse.
“Instead, the DCRP is focused on moving forward as a unified party, with an eye toward our shared conservative values,” Mirch said.
World-Herald Staff Writer Connie White contributed to this report.