Just when Arizona finally had a resolution to its contentious Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and the eventual victor, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, there’s another race for the other seat that’s already heating up. But this time, only one vote counts: Governor Doug Ducey’s.
Senator Jon Kyl, who took over the Senate vacancy left when Senator John McCain died earlier this year, declared he would only fill the role until January, 2019. That puts the responsibility of filling the seat to the Governor who, by state law, must choose a Republican since McCain was a Republican.
Some have speculated that McSally will get another shot at the Senate after losing her election, but that seems unlikely at this point. Though her race was close, she is still a Republican who lost to a far-left Democratic Socialist. That can’t sit well with Republicans in a red state.
Others have pointed to Kelli Ward, who tried to take the seat from Senator McCain in the 2016 primaries. Ward, a conservative, lost the primary this year to McSally after failing to get President Trump’s endorsement after former sheriff Joe Arpaio entered the race. The two conservatives split the vote, but even combined they were outpaced by the moderate McSally.
The irony in all this is that Establishment Republicans hand-picked McSally because they thought Ward or Arpaio couldn’t win even in the red state of Arizona. Their wisdom may have cost them a seat that should have been safely held by the GOP.
Whoever Ducey chooses, it will only be less than two years. Arizona law says the official replacement must run in the next election, which is 2020. Then, the seat’s election comes up again in 2022. All of this means it’s conceivable four different people can fill the seat during it’s single Senate term.
If there’s one thing we learned with the 2018 election, it’s that polarizing works. Moderates generally lost tight races and those further to the right or left generally won.
Whoever Ducey picks, it should be a conservative. Arizona has been trying to hold the center aisle for too long. Don’t make the same mistake the AZGOP made by backing a moderate. Be bold, Governor.