News & Politics

Martha McSally to Replace John McCain in the Senate Despite Election Loss

Then U.S. Rep. (now Senator) Martha McSally, R-Ariz., waits to speak at a rally, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

On Tuesday, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) announced he had nominated Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) to fill the Senate seat left open by John McCain’s passing this August. McSally narrowly lost the U.S. Senate race this November to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), but Ducey has given her political career a new lease on life.

“I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve and be a voice for all Arizonans,” McSally said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema and getting to work from day one.”

Gov. Ducey hailed McSally for her achievements, noting that she served 26 years in the military, was deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan, was the first woman to fly in combat, and served in Congress.

McSally’s nomination comes after an emotionally fraught campaign battle with Sinema. The Republican woman, the first woman to fly in combat, accused Sinema of mocking veterans like her. Sinema had protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while dressing in a pink tutu and distributing flyers that compared U.S. troops to terrorists.

McSally also accused Sinema of treason for suggesting that Americans should go fight with the Taliban — the very terrorist group McSally fought against.

“You said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally declared in a debate. “I want to ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it’s okay to commit treason.”

Sinema did not apologize. Instead, she attacked McSally for bringing up the issue. “Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you’re seeing right now, where she’s engaging in ridiculous attacks and smearing my campaign,” the Democrat quipped.

Among other things, Sinema also mocked Arizona as the “crazy state” and the “meth lab of Democracy.”

Even so, Sinema defeated McSally in November, 50 percent to 47.6 percent. Republican Governor Doug Ducey, however, trounced his Democratic challenger, David Garcia, 56 percent to 41.8 percent.

While McSally will enter the U.S. Senate, she will have to campaign early, since she faces a special election in two years. If she loses, Republicans will be angry at Ducey for doubling down on a losing candidate.

In January, Arizona will be one of the few states to have two women in the Senate.

Even so, Ducey’s decision might anger “McCain Republicans,” who disliked the first female combat pilot because she spurned McCain as he battled cancer during the 2018 election, the Arizona Republic reported. The congresswoman refused to mention McCain’s name during President Trump’s signing of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act.

McSally met with McCain’s widow Cindy last Friday and apologized for this slight. The widow expressed her appreciation for the apology after the 30-minute meeting.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.