On November 6, Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) was defeated in her election to be a U.S. senator, losing to Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema (D) by more than a 2 point margin — 1,191,100 votes (49.96 percent) to 1,135,200 (47.61). But despite the fact that McSally got more than 55,000 fewer votes, she too will get a U.S. Senate seat come January, thanks to her former boss and the state’s Republican governor.
After Sen. John McCain (R) died in August, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed lobbyist and former Sen. Jon Kyl (R) to fill his unexpired term. But Kyl did not want to serve for the entire 28 remaining months of McCain’s six-year term and announced Friday that he would resign, effective December 31.Despite Ducey’s inner circle reportedly having reservations about appointing McSally to take Kyl’s place — she lost in a state that went to Trump in 2016 and just re-elected Ducey with 56 percent of the vote, but later released a four-page memo blaming everyone but herself for her defeat — the governor announced on Tuesday that he will give the remaining two years of the Senate term to McSally. This move reportedly comes at the strong urging of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Prior to her tenure in the U.S. House, McSally once worked as an aide to Kyl, who she has praised as a “brilliant man” and a “workhorse, not a show-horse.”
McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, tweeted out a not-particularly-enthusiastic statement, wishing McSally well and saying she “respect[s]” Ducey’s decision.
My husband’s greatest legacy was placing service to AZ & USA ahead of his own self-interest. I respect @dougducey's decision to appoint @RepMcSally to fill the remainder of his term. Arizonans will be pulling for her, hoping that she will follow his example of selfless leadership
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) December 18, 2018
McSally was hammered throughout the 2018 campaign for her dishonest claims about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, her 97 percent support for Donald Trump (despite once explicitly vowing to vote against her own party more than 20 percent of the time), and for her shifting positions on immigration reform and many other issues.
But even though Arizona voters decisively rejected having her as their Senator, thanks to Ducey, they will get her anyway.