Appointed Replacement for John McCain Would Serve Until 2020

Governor’s choice would serve until 2020, when special election would be held

With the death of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint a successor who would serve until 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The death of Sen. John McCain has created an open Senate seat in Arizona that Gov. Doug Ducey has the authority to fill. The appointee will serve until 2020, when a special election will be held for the remaining two years of the longtime Republican senator’s term.

Ducey, a Republican who is running for re-election this fall, is expected to appoint a successor in the coming days to fill McCain’s seat. McCain, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, died in Arizona from complications due to brain cancer on Aug. 25. 

Arizona law stipulates that a Senate vacancy must be filled at the next general election, with the winner serving out the rest of McCain’s term through 2022. That election isn’t expected to take place this November since McCain died after the 2018 filing deadline of May 30.

Possible appointees include McCain’s wife Cindy; the governor’s chief of staff, Kirk Adams; former Sen. Jon Kyl; and state Treasuer Eileen Klein.

Arizona’s other senator, Republican Jeff Flake, is retiring at the end of this term. The open seat contest for his seat will come into more focus after Tuesday’s Republican primary between Rep. Martha McSally, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It is likely that Ducey will wait until after the primary to make a decision on whom to appoint to fill McCain’s seat. 

Jason Dick contributed to this report.

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