McSally Tapped to Replace Kyl in the Senate

Arizona governor fills John McCain's seat

Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Staff / Getty Images and Facebook, Martha McSally

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) (shown above right) on Tuesday to fill the Senate seat that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is vacating at the end of the year.

Kyl (above left), who initially served in the Senate from 1995 to 2013, stepped in to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) vacant seat in September after Ducey appointed him.

But Kyl agreed to fill the seat only temporarily until at least the end of 2018.

McCain died on August 25 after battling a virulent form of brain cancer for a year.

He was a Navy pilot and spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He served in the Senate for more than 30 years and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee against former President Barack Obama.

Kyl announced last week that he would vacate McCain’s Senate seat on December 31, thus leading to Ducey’s decision to tap McSally as his replacement.

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“All her life, Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times,” Ducey said in a statement on Tuesday.

“She served 26 years in the military; deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan; was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat; and she’s represented Southern Arizona in Congress for the past four years.”

McSally narrowly lost her own Senate bid to fill Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) seat in November to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Assuming McSally is sworn into the Senate before Sinema, she will become the state’s first female U.S. senator, as well as Arizona’s senior senator.

“With her experience and long record of service, Martha is uniquely qualified to step up and fight for Arizona’s interests in the U.S. Senate,” Ducey added. “I thank her for taking on this significant responsibility and look forward to working with her and Senator-Elect Sinema to get positive things done.”

McSally said in a Tuesday statement, “Over the last year, I’ve traveled across this great state, meeting with countless Arizonans, and listening to them.”

“I’ve heard about the challenges they face and the hopes they have for the future – and I’ve learned a lot. I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve and be a voice for all Arizonans,” McSally continued. “I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema and getting to work from day one.”

For his part, Kyl said in a statement that McSally “certainly has the knowledge and experience to represent our state in the Senate.”

“Moreover, she is highly energetic, smart and committed to finding practical solutions to problems facing our state and nation. She is an excellent choice,” Kyl added.

McSally will be up for re-election for her soon-to-be seat in 2020 — the year McCain would have been up for re-election.

Related: Arizona Gov Taps Jon Kyl as McCain Senate Replacement

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted, “Martha McSally has spent years serving her country, both as a pilot in the Air Force and in Congress. She’s a true fighter, and she’ll be an excellent senator for the people of Arizona!”

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, tweeted, “My husband’s greatest legacy was placing service to AZ & USA ahead of his own self-interest. I respect @dougducey’s decision to appoint @RepMcSally to fill the remainder of his term. Arizonans will be pulling for her, hoping that she will follow his example of selfless leadership.”

Not all were pleased with Ducey’s selection of McSally, however.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) said in a statement obtained by Politico’s James Arkin, “Why appoint a loser when you could find a fresh face with a better shot in 2020? That’s the question that will haunt Governor Ducey and the Washington Republicans who installed Martha McSally to a seat she couldn’t earn.”

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