Will Ducey Appoint a Moderate or a Conservative to Replace McCain?
UPDATE: Governor Ducey has decided to appoint former Senator Jon Kyl to the seat.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said he would name a Senate replacement for John McCain after McCain’s funeral proceedings. Insiders say it is likely to be McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, 64. “If she gave him any indication she wants the seat, I think she gets it,” a source told The Guardian. She is less conservative than her husband. She was an outspoken supporter of the NOH8 campaign. That was a gay rights project opposed to California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
Cindy McCain is not the only McCain reportedly being looked at. The McCains’ daughter Meghan McCain, 33, may be a choice. She calls herself a Republican, however, she is quite liberal. She admits it on social issues. McCain supports gay rights and opposes abstinence-only education. She is worried about global warming. McCain says she is on the fence about the Occupy Wall Street movement. She supports government-funded embryonic stem cell research.
McCain voted for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. She once said on the Rachel Maddow Show, “I didn’t even take econ[omics] in college. I don’t completely understand it so I’d hate to make a comment one way or the other. That’s — truly of all the things — I keep reading and I just don’t understand it.” McCain praised Hillary Clinton for having “pushed through many doors and shattered many glass ceilings for women in politics.”
Interest in Meghan McCain has risen recently due to her defending the GOP against four other women on the TV show The View. Also, her well-publicized shots at Trump during her eulogy were a hit. She said,”The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” to great applause.
Adam Brandon, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner advocating former Congressman Matt Salmon, 60, to replace McCain. Salmon has a lifetime rating of 95 from the American Conservative Union. This is far higher than McCain’s 80. The GOP base would be fine with him. He’s even done a pretty good job of not making enemies with the moderates.
The GOP base would also love to see Ducey appoint Kelli Ward, 49. She lost the GOP Senate primary election for former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s seat last week. Moderate Congresswoman Martha McSally won. She has a dismal lifetime score of 71 from the American Conservative Union. McSally received millions from the GOP establishment. One of the Super PACs supporting her ran an ad full of misstatements about Ward. Conservatives are bitter about moderates beating up on Ward; they believe appointing her to this seat would resolve the unfairness.
Another solid conservative name that has popped up is former Congressman John Shadegg, 68. He has an impressive lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 98. He gets along with both the GOP base and the moderates.
Former Senator Jon Kyl’s name is also being circulated. The 76-year-old has a lifetime rating of 96 from the American Conservative Union, but the GOP base dislikes him. They view him as part of the GOP establishment and a McCain crony. He angered them when he helped craft a compromise on immigration that they viewed as amnesty.
Ducey’s chief of staff, Kirk Adams, 45, a former state legislator, may be in the running. He has close ties to the wealthy Koch brothers. While his record in the state legislature was fairly conservative, he has riled the GOP base with some of his heavy-handedness as chief of staff.
A dark horse candidate is Eileen Klein, whom Ducey recently appointed as state treasurer. She previously served as chief of staff for Governor Jan Brewer. Barbara Barrett, 67, the first woman to run for governor in Arizona, is another dark horse candidate. She has never held public office. Businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson’s name is also being thrown around.
Narrowing it Down
Ducey is likely to appoint someone who will run for office after the appointment ends. He is not likely to appoint a caretaker to merely serve out the term. It is doubtful that he will appoint a sitting member of Congress, because that would force an election to find a replacement.
Ducey has to tread very carefully here. A large portion of the GOP base is upset with him for caving in on #RedForEd. He agreed to a 20 percent salary increase for teachers which has no guarantees it will be implemented. Although Ducey easily won reelection in the GOP gubernatorial primary election last week, appointing a moderate Republican will destroy his reputation as a conservative.
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