John McCain Replacement: Could Democrats Win the Seat?

John McCain, John McCain senate, John McCain congress

Getty Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol February 24, 2016 in Washington, DC.

U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, has died at the age of 81. As the nation mourns the former prisoner of war, the conversation will eventually turn to the political calculus: What happens to John McCain’s Senate seat now? Could Democrats win it?

The questions have new currency with Democratic impeachment talk as a result of Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump. Certainly, Hillary Clinton competed for Arizona, a state with changing demographics that made it seem less certain for conservatives than in the past.

Here’s what you need to know:

McCain Will Be Replaced by a Republican – at Least Until 2020


Because McCain died while he was still in office as a Senator, that means Arizona’s governor will get to appoint someone to serve out his term, according to The Washington Post.

According to Vox, Arizona state law holds that the governor must pick a Republican because that is the party of John McCain. Furthermore, Arizona’s governor is himself a Republican.

Thus, Democrats will have to wait until 2020 to have a shot at McCain’s Senate seat.

The replacement chosen by the governor will serve out McCain’s term through 2020. According to the Post, there would have been a special election for McCain’s seat if he had vacated it before May 30, 2018. However, McCain died on August 25, 2018, which gives the governor the appointment.

Of course, Democrats may compete for the McCain seat in 2020, but they will be doing so against an incumbent – albeit a gubernatorial appointed one.

The governor of Arizona is Republican Doug Ducey. According to AZCentral, Ducey has been quiet about whom he might pick to replace McCain. The newspaper reported that the only thing Ducey has ruled out is appointing himself to the post.

Names floated by AZCentral as possibilities include McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain; Kirk Adams, Ducey’s chief of staff; Barbara Barrett, who ran for governor; former U.S. Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl; Karrin Taylor Robson, founder of a real-estate development company; former Congressman John Shadegg; Matt Salmon, a former Congressman; and Eileen Klein, the state treasurer.

Ducey released a statement after McCain’s death but it focused on the Senator’s heroism and service – not on his replacement. Ducey’s statement reads:

John McCain is one American who will never be forgotten.

He was a giant. An icon. An American hero. But here at home, we were most proud to call him a fellow Arizonan. Like so many of us, he was not born here, but his spirit, service and fierce independence shaped the state with which he became synonymous.

Angela and I join all Arizonans in praying for Cindy and the entire McCain family during this difficult time and offering our full support.

As we mourn his passing and celebrate his truly phenomenal life, we’re also faced with the void John McCain’s absence leaves in the heart and soul of our nation.

John McCain fought for America every day — from the Navy through Vietnam to the U.S. Senate. He fought for what he thought was right, even when it wasn’t popular. His dogged patriotism and passion for country made him an inspiration, and a model, for all of us.

John McCain was about more than politics. He brought us above partisanship and challenged us to be great.

He once told us, ‘We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.’

May his life and legacy continue to inspire us to build a future for this country, and a history for this country, that would make John McCain proud.