What Will Happen to John McCain’s Senate Seat?

August 26, 2018, 8:04 PM UTC

Arizona Sen. John McCain, 81, died after a battle with brain cancer on Saturday, leaving his seat empty. State law now requires Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to appoint a successor who will hold office until 2020, as Politico reports. Then, in 2020, the state will hold a special election to select a senator for the following two years, until the 2022 elections, which is when a senator will be chosen for the usual six-year term.

Arizona law stipulates that Ducey must select a successor from the same party as McCain, but the Republican governor has been ambiguous about who may fill the senator’s seat. As McCain underwent treatment for brain cancer in recent months, Ducey avoided the topic out of respect for the family. Now, after McCain’s death, Ducey’s office announced they will not select a successor until after McCain’s funeral.

“Out of respect for the life and legacy of Senator John McCain and his family, Governor Ducey will not be making any announcements about an appointment until after the Senator is laid to rest,” Daniel Ruiz, a spokesman for Ducey, told Politico.

According to The New York Times, McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda as well as the Arizona Capitol. He’ll receive a full funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral and a burial in Annapolis, Md., but a schedule of events has yet to be released.

While Ducey has been elusive about who he’s considering for McCain’s successor, The Arizona Republic, reported possible appointments include McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain—a philanthropist, businesswoman, and active supporter of her husband’s career. Other alleged candidates include Ducey’s Chief of Staff Kirk Adams, businesswoman Barbara Barrett, former Sen. Jon Kyl, businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, former Congressman John Shadegg, State Treasurer Eileen Klein, and former representative Matt Salmon.

Had McCain vacated his senate seat before May 30, his position would have been filled with a special election this year, The Washington Post reports. This would have meant Republicans would have had to defend two Senate seats in Arizona, as McCain’s Republican colleague, Jeff Flake, announced late last year that he would not seek another term.

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