Does Martha McSally have a Plan B?

Arizona voters will decide the successor to Senator Jeff Flake today between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally.

But Arizona voters will have no say in who is the successor to Senator John McCain. That may occur as soon as December or January with the new Congress.

This decision belongs to the governor of Arizona, and former Senator Jon Kyl, who was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey as a “temporary” successor to Sen. McCain.

Sen. Kyl does not sound like a man who is contemplating staying past the current congressional term. The Arizona Republic recently reported, Sen. Jon Kyl hesitant to discuss his Senate service past 2018:

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl was hesitant to say this week whether he will continue to serve in the Senate past the end of the year.

Kyl, R-Arizona, returned to the Senate in September, following the death of long-serving U.S. Sen. John McCain, who died Aug. 25 after a 13-month battle with brain cancer.

Kyl agreed to serve at least through the end of the year, although the governor said he hoped Kyl would seriously consider serving until a special election is held in 2020 to fill the rest of McCain’s term, which ends in 2022.

Kyl on Wednesday appeared non-committal about a future in the Senate during an interview with The Arizona Republic after a tour of Phoenix food bank with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Rep. Martha McSally, a Senate hopeful.

“It’s not for any lack of interest, and it’s certainly an incredible honor to go back to work for the people of Arizona,” he said. “You see from a group of people like this how great they are to work with and to represent. But I have family needs, as well, and so, we’ll decide what to do at that point. I’ll talk to the governor.”

Kyl said he plans on speaking with Ducey about his plans in the next three or four weeks. He noted the Senate still has outstanding work on presidential nominations, the farm bill and agency appropriations.

“We’re going to finish all of that, and then we’ll see,” Kyl said.

A decision on a new Senate vacancy, if it happens, could be based more on the GOP’s prospects in 2020 and with an eye toward setting up an incumbent for the 2022 Senate race.

And this is where I am reminded of a column by Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star back in September when Jon Kyl was appointed as a “temporary” successor to Sen. McCain:

The other [troubling aspect of Kyl’s short commitment to the Senate job] involves this November’s general election. U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, a Tucson Republican, is in a tough race for U.S. Senate against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix. They’re both strong candidates — either could conceivably lose.

If McSally loses, Kyl could honor his commitment to complete this congressional session and quit in time for Ducey to appoint McSally to the seat. That could work even if Ducey loses his bid for re-election to challenger David Garcia, although there would have to be a quick resignation and appointment probably in late December.

Any governor, Garcia or Ducey, would have to appoint a Republican. But it’s likely Garcia would appoint the most moderate, anti-Trump Republican possible, while McSally has hewed increasingly close to a pro-Trump line.

And if all of this plays out — if Kyl casts a vote that puts Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, and if McSally loses but then is appointed after Kyl quits — Kyl can return to lobbying again, completing his second 360-degree circle between lobbying and elected office.

[Kyl’s] limited commitment to the job takes the luster off [his] appointment and makes it look more like a brazenly political play.

If Arizona voters reject Martha McSally for the senate in today’s election, it would be an affront to Arizona voters to reward her with  a consolation prize of being appointed to Sen.McCain’s seat in December, an appointed term that would run through 2020.

Of course, Governor Ducey may already have his eyes on McCain’s senate seat in 2020, and he may be able to convince Jon Kyl or some other GOP stooge to serve as a mere placeholder until he runs for senate in 2020.

If Democrat Katie Hobbs is elected Secretary of State today, that could alter Ducey’s senate bid plans, because the Secretary of State is next in line of succession to the governor when a vacancy occurs in the office.

We will know how all this plays out before the end of the year. Stay tuned.





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4 responses to “Does Martha McSally have a Plan B?

  1. William Stockglausner

    McSally accrued more that one million votes. That’s hardly a rejection! Appoint her to the seat.

  2. The only way McSally is going to Washington, DC, is in violation of the will of the people.

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