It’s hard to find much to cheer about these days, but there is the Arizona Senate race.
I love seeing justice done, but I especially love poetic justice.
And maybe, just maybe, we could see a little of that in November.
Flash back to 2018. An ailing, terminally ill John McCain, no longer physically able to function as a US Senator, retained his seat until his death in August. That was long enough for cynical Arizona Republicans, led by Doug Ducey, to avoid having the seat be filled in the November 2018 election. It didn’t have to be that way. The right course was for McCain to resign in time for candidates to file for the August 2018 primary. Don’t blame McCain, though. Had his colleagues here asked him to, for the sake of fairness, he would have done so. Even if he refused, a special primary could have been called to allow the seat to be filled that November.
But fairness is never a high priority for AZ Republicans. If two Senate seats were on the ballot that November, the likely result would be a split, with each party winning one. The Republicans could guarantee themselves that result, at least for two years, simply by frustrating the democratic process, and the spirit of Arizona law, by having McCain hold on, then claiming it not feasible to have his seat on the November ballot. And if Martha McSally could defeat Kyrsten Sinema, which she almost did, they just might be able to keep both Senate seats.
Pigs get fat, but hogs, the saying goes, get slaughtered.
Had Arizona Republicans respected fairness, the democratic process, and the Arizona law that required an open Senate seat to be filled in the next general election, the likely result is that there would be a Republican Senator not up for re-election until either 2022 or 2024, and no seat up for grabs this November.
But one of two seats wasn’t good enough for them. They had to have both.
So they gambled. At the time, it seemed like a good bet. If they could win either the 2018 Senate election or the 2020 Senate election, they’d be no worse off than if they played fair and split two 2018 races. And if they won both? Then hot damn diggity!
Good bets don’t always pan out though.
Turned out that 2018 was not a good year for Republicans to turn down an even split in Arizona. Sinema won the seat vacated by Jeff Flake.
2020 isn’t looking especially good for Republicans in Arizona either. The race still is close. It still could go either way. But Mark Kelly is positioned to beat Martha McSally. If he does, that Republican gamble, a seemingly good bet at the time, will have badly backfired.
How badly could it have backfired? Here’s how: In Nervous Republicans See Trump Sinking, and Taking Senate With Him, the New York Times reports, Republicans are in danger of losing a net three Senate seats in November. They likely will flip Alabama back to a Republican. But the seats in Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and (wait for it) Arizona all could go the other way.
And should Republicans lose the presidency as well, that would give Senate control to the Democrats.
A result which almost certainly would not now be possible had Arizona Republicans simply played fair two years ago.
Put another way, Doug Ducey and his buddies quite possibly could have handed control of the US Senate to the Democrats.
Could poetic justice be in the offing?