America was saddened on Saturday to learn that a giant of the Senate had passed away. After a brutal and hard-fought battle against a devastating form of brain cancer, Arizona Sen. John McCain died this weekend, leaving behind a legacy of heroism, controversy, plain-spoken conservatism, and a live Senate seat that will have to be filled by Gov. Doug Ducey. The speculation over who will take McCain’s seat began immediately, but thus far, neither Ducey nor the Republican Party have tipped their hands as to who will take the spot.
There were intimations earlier this year that McCain wished to have his wife, Cindy, fill the seat after he passed away, but it remains to be seen if that’s the direction Ducey wants to go in. He is under few restrictions when it comes to whom he appoints; he must only make sure they are eligible for Senate service and that they belong to the Republican Party.
The decision is not going to be without scrutiny. McCain has made a name for himself as a “maverick” within the GOP who thought nothing of crossing the aisle to work with Democrats when he saw fit to do it. While his war-hawkishness put him on firm Republican ground during the Bush era, some of these same sensibilities put him on the outside looking in as the party’s voters turned against the Iraq invasion and similar excursions in the Middle East.
His feud with President Donald Trump, of course, soured many conservatives on the former Vietnam POW.
For these reasons, Arizona Republicans may be hoping to see Ducey pick someone who will maintain McCain’s late-career legacy of thwarting Trump. McCain not only spoke out against the president’s behavior and demeanor on multiple occasions, he famously dropped a bill-killing thumbs down on the GOP’s best shot to repeal Obamacare last year. These moves have earned him scorn from Trump supporters, though even his fiercest political enemies were able to put aside their disdain and offer the senator some respect this weekend as his family mourned the loss.
Whomever it is that Ducey picks, they will serve in McCain’s seat until the 2020 election, at which time Arizona voters will have a chance to select McCain’s ultimate successor for themselves. The person that wins the election will then serve out the remainder of McCain’s term, which would have been over in January 2023.