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A Heritage Foundation executive with Washington experience, including a staff position with former Vice President Dick Cheney, has been chosen by Sen.-elect Ben Sasse to head his Senate leadership team.

Sasse announced Wednesday that he has selected Derrick Morgan, now vice president for economic freedom and opportunity at the Heritage Foundation, to serve as chief of staff.

Shelly Blake, a key member of Sasse's leadership team during his tenure as president of Midland University in Fremont and a former member of Nebraska congressional staffs, will be deputy chief of staff in Nebraska and headquartered in Lincoln.

Tyler Grassmeyer, who managed Sasse's campaign, will be deputy chief of staff in Washington. He's a native of Holdrege with wide Capitol Hill experience, including staff positions with former Sen. Chuck Hagel and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

Patrick Lehman, now legislative director for Sen. Mike Johanns, will hold the same position on the Sasse team.

Blake and Grassmeyer have been managing the transition of the Senate seat from Johanns to Sasse. 

Morgan and Lehman will join the Sasse team once he's officially sworn in on Jan. 6.

A swearing-in reception for Sasse has been scheduled on that day, beginning at 10 a.m., at the Capitol Visitors Center.

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"I am proud that the first four folks I wanted to help me lead this team have all accepted the invitations," Sasse said. "These are big-cause, low-ego, smart workers."

Morgan, the designated chief of staff, advised senators on agriculture, energy and labor issues while working on the Senate Republican Policy Committee before joining the Heritage Foundation, which Sasse described as a principled conservative think tank.

His role with Cheney was assistant, special counsel and staff secretary to the vice president.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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