Arizona gov taps McSally for McCain Senate seat

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Tuesday tapped outgoing Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Ariz.) to fill the seat of the late GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO MORE.

McSally lost a bitterly fought Senate race in November against Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The GOP congresswoman was appointed days after Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) announced that he’d resign from the Senate on Dec. 31.

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McSally will serve out the remaining two years of McCain's term, which expires in January 2021, and will face a special election for a full, six-year term in 2020.

"All her life, Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times,” Ducey said in a Tuesday statement.

"With her experience and long record of service, Martha is uniquely qualified to step up and fight for Arizona’s interests in the U.S. Senate. I thank her for taking on this significant responsibility and look forward to working with her and Senator-Elect Sinema to get positive things done.”

McSally was considered a top prospect to replace Kyl, who was sworn into office in September, about a month after McCain died from brain cancer. He had hinted that he’d only serve in the Senate until the end of the year.

McSally, who made history as the first woman to fly a fighter jet in combat, was first elected to Congress in 2014.

She represented a Tucson-based swing seat, but took more hardline stances on immigration during the crowded Republican Senate primary. McSally also closely aligned herself with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE throughout her Senate campaign.

McSally’s appointment comes even after some donors vented frustrations about a memo from the Republican's campaign team about her Senate loss.

She also recently apologized to the late senator’s widow, Cindy McCain, for not mentioning him when Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2019, according to The Arizona Republic.

Arizona is expected to have another hotly contested Senate race in 2020 as the state becomes a more competitive battleground.

Trump only won Arizona by less than 4 points in 2016, signaling an opening for Democrats in the 2018 cycle.

Last month, Sinema defeated McSally by more than 2 points in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least MORE (R), which was called almost a week after the Nov. 6 election.

Sinema will become the first female senator to represent the state, and Arizona will be one of nine states to have two women serving in the Senate.

Some Arizona Democrats considering a Senate run in 2020 are Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat Science group seeks to draft Mark Kelly for 2020 Arizona Senate race MORE (D) and Grant Woods, a former Republican attorney general who served as McCain’s chief of staff in the U.S. House.

-- Updated at 11:26 a.m.