WASHINGTON – Rep. Martha McSally, R-Tucson, lost her bid to replace Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake this fall but won the chance Tuesday to take a seat in the Senate after all, when she was tapped to replace the late Sen. John McCain.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday appointed McSally to fill McCain’s seat for the next two years, when she will have to stand election in 2020 if she wants to serve out the remaining two years of McCain’s term.
McSally, a two-term House member, will become the third person to hold the seat in just four months: After McCain’s death in August, Ducey tapped former Sen. Jon Kyl to replace him.
Kyl at the time only promised to serve until the end of the year, and he made that official last week, telling Ducey he plans to step down as of 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31.
McSally will join Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat who beat her in the November race to replace Flake, a one-term Republican.
Arizona, which had not elected a woman to the Senate before Sinema, now will have two women senators, one of six states in the next Congress with two women in the upper chamber. Arizona will also be the only state with two freshmen in the Senate.
Ducey said he would “respect the will of the voters” and swear in Sinema as the state’s senior senator in January.
“Sen.-elect Sinema was elected to the office and she’s going to be sworn in first,” the governor said.
The only requirement on Ducey was that McCain’s replacement be a Republican. But in making the appointment, Ducey said McSally’s history as an Air Force combat pilot and her four years in the House positioned her as someone who can hit the ground running.
“Arizona needs someone who understands the critical issues, who can get to work from day one, and who embodies a spirit of service – of putting the people we represent before all else,” Ducey said in his remarks. “Martha McSally possesses these qualities.”