Many have had sympathy for Senator John McCain and his family as they deal with his brain cancer diagnosis. Now it seems that some are also angling for a chance to replace him by being appointed to his Senate seat.
There are reportedly lobbying campaigns aimed at this very purpose. The Hill reports that many Republicans are angered by the campaigns, which they see as "disrespectful to a senator who has helped shape modern Arizona."
One man is more vocally upset by the activity, and he's not the man someone who wants to be appointed should displease. The Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, who would make the appointment if necessary, offered a browbeating to these people.
“I have found it a little bit off color, some of the prognosticators and pundits who have been making these predictions as to the senator's outcome. I think people should be praying for him and rooting for him,” Ducey told KTAR radio. “To the politicians out there that have been openly lobbying for this position, they've basically disqualified themselves by showing their true character.”
The Hill says people listening to his comments in Phoenix interpreted them as directed at three politicians who have been openly interested in a Senate seat: Rep. Paul Gosar (R), former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), and former Rep. Matt Salmon (R).
Gosar has especially open about his desire to serve in the Senate. He conducted polling to see if he had a chance at replacing retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R) earlier this year. The Hill also says his chief of staff emailed a member of Ducey's staff about McCain's seat, according to three sources with knowledge of the conversation.
“At this time my prayers are with Sen. McCain. There will be a time and a place for any political discussion in due course,” Gosar said in a statement to The Hill.
Likewise, Ward, who challenged McCain in the 2016 Republican primary, hasn't been shy about her ambitions. She said shortly after McCain was diagnosed with cancer that he should resign. She also inferred that she should be considered to replace him.
“We are laser focused is on winning Jeff Flake’s seat, which we are in prime position to do,” said Ed Rollins, Ward's campaign chairman. “If a situation arises where an appointment is needed, the governor should appoint another strong conservative, who can partner with Dr. Ward after she wins.”
Salmon, the top lobbyist at Arizona State University, has been less overt about his desires for a Senate seat. Salmon had lunch with Ducey's chief of staff earlier this month.
“He has an interest in serving in the Senate, yes, but he has no interest in lobbying for a vacancy that doesn't exist,” the source close to Salmon said. “He feels he has absolutely no role in that decision anyway.”
After a health scare two weeks ago, McCain returned home to Arizona to spend the holidays with his family. He tweeted on December 18th that he was “looking forward to returning to work after the holidays.”
McCain remains in a wheelchair, which is a side effect of his cancer treatment. His wife, Cindy, reportedly gives Ducey's office and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office regular updates on her husband's progress.
Arizona is a key battleground state in 2018. Senator Jeff. Flake's decision seat is up for grabs after he decided to retire. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) is reportedly a strong contender for the seat.
If McCain's seat becomes vacant at least six months before the next general election, voters would pick a candidate to fill the remainder of the unexpired term. That means Arizona could have two Senate seats on the ballot in November.
"A prospect some Republicans fear as political winds appear to shift toward Democrats," warned The Hill.
Do you agree with Ducey or do you think McCain should have already retired? In other news, a leading Hollywood director just gave an amazing defense of the GOP tax plan.