By Scottsdale Pinetop
A war hero, an Arizona Senator and a presidential candidate. The legacy and political career of Senator John McCain has become a staple of Arizona’s pioneering identity. Diagnosed with brain cancer last summer, the Senator has been in and out of hospital treatments for the past year. With the future of McCain’s health uncertain, so is the future of the Arizona Republican Party.
The narrative of McCain’s political career has been a point of controversy since his presidential campaign in 2008. He has been praised for his self-styled nonconformist reputation while also being criticized as one of President Trump’s loudest opponents from his own party. Regardless of opinion, McCain remains one of Arizona’s most powerful political figures and many lawmakers are fearful of losing his influence.
With growing concern of McCain’s poor health, Republican lawmakers are taking steps to ensure his Senate seat remains in house.
The Arizona Republican Party already faces a number of challenges on the upcoming November ballot including school vouchers, teacher pay, and the DACA program. Losing its most prominent voices in Washington would be an enormous blow to the party. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, state Republican lawmakers are moving to pass an emergency clause to an existing bill that outline how to replace members of Congress should they resign or die.
Traditionally, vacated U.S. Senate seats are filled by a Governor’s appointee until the seat can be voted on in the next general election. In short, if McCain’s seat is vacated by May 31, the Senate seat would be placed on the November ballot. The emergency proposal is seeking to change this date from May 31 to March 31, taking McCain’s seat out of play. But this isn’t sitting well with Arizona Democrats who want another shot at winning a Senate seat.
Republicans are already fighting to defend one of its Arizona Senate seats after Senator Jeff Flake announced he would not be running for re-election. The party might not have the support, candidates and resources to defend another, especially this year. With Arizona Democrats preparing for a fight this season, it’s quite possible control of the U.S. Senate will route through Arizona. That’s unless an American hero can save his greatest rally for last or if Arizona Republicans can rewrite the rules, no matter how distasteful, if he cannot.