Arizona Republican who lost 2018 Senate race gets appointed to state's other seat
On Tuesday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that he was appointing Rep. Martha McSally, who narrowly lost the 2018 Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, to Arizona’s other Senate seat. McSally, who will take over after interim Sen. Jon Kyl resigns on Dec. 31, will need to face the voters again in a November 2020 special election for the final two years of the late John McCain’s term. Whoever wins will be up again in 2022 for a full six-year term.
National Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have reportedly been pushing Ducey to appoint McSally for a while. However, McSally does have her detractors, some of whom reportedly are in Ducey’s inner circle. Washington Post reporter Sean Sullivan wrote back in November that McSally skeptics griped that she didn’t do a better job utilizing opposition research about Sinema’s past as an anti-war organizer and a member of the Green Party. McSally, a former former combat pilot, very much did run ugly attacks on Sinema, calling the contest a battle between a “between a patriot and a protester,” but apparently, that still didn’t go far enough for some Republicans.
McSally skeptics also complained that she distanced herself too much from McCain, who is utterly despised by Donald Trump but has his fans among swing voters. McSally’s detractors also argued that her decision to run as a Trump loyalist caused her problems in November. Democrats are also going to be sure to remember that in 2015, McSally didn’t just vote for the House version of Trumpcare, but she reportedly rallied her colleagues behind the bill by declaring that it was time to get this “fucking thing” done.
Still, while the governor himself reportedly had lost some of his enthusiasm for picking McSally, he still went ahead and did so on Tuesday. For all her faults, McSally is a strong fundraiser who has experience running statewide. She also may be able to avoid an expensive primary this time now that she’ll be running as an incumbent, albeit an unelected one. Democrats are very likely to target this seat, which Team Blue almost certainly would need to flip in order to take the Senate in 2020, so McSally will be in for another competitive race two years after losing her first one.