Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said he would name a replacement for John McCain in the Senate after McCain’s funeral proceedings concluded. 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, a gay-rights project opposed to California Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
Cindy McCain is not the only McCain reportedly under consideration. The McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain, 33, is a possibility. She is quite liberal, although she calls herself a Republican. She admits she is liberal on social issues. She supports gay rights and opposes abstinence-only education. She is worried about global warming and says she is on the fence about the Occupy Wall Street movement. She supports government funded embryonic stem cell research. She 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.” She praised Hillary Clinton for having “pushed through many doors and shattered many glass ceilings for women in politics.”
Adam Brandon, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner advocating for former Congressman Matt Salmon, 60, to replace McCain. Salmon has a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 95, far higher than McCain’s 80. The conservative base would be fine with him, and he’s done a pretty good job of not making enemies with the moderates.
The conservative base would also love to see Ducey appoint Kelli Ward, 49. She lost the GOP primary election for Senate to replace Arizona Senator Jeff Flake last week. Moderate Congresswoman Martha McSally, who has a dismal lifetime score of 71 from the American Conservative Union, won. 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 the conservative Ward and 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 conservative base and the moderates.
Former Senator Jon Kyl’s name is being circulated. The 76-year-old has a lifetime rating of 96 from the American Conservative Union, but the conservative 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 legislator, may be under consideration. He has close ties to the wealthy libertarian Koch brothers. While his record in the state legislature was fairly conservative, he has riled the conservative base with some of his heavy-handedness as chief of staff.
A dark-horse candidate is Eileen Klein, who 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.
Ducey is likely to appoint someone who will run for office after the appointment ends, instead of a caretaker to merely serve out the term. He will probably not appoint a sitting member of Congress, because that would force an election to find a replacement.
Ducey has to tread very carefully here. A significant portion of the conservative 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.