Arizona gov taps McSally for McCain Senate seat

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Tuesday tapped outgoing Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFive takeaways from Arizona's audit results The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (R-Ariz.) to fill the seat of the late GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden 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 TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump 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 FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots 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 GallegoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Final countdown: Senate inches toward last infrastructure vote Arizona state senator arrested on charges of sexual conduct with a minor House Democrats introduce bill restoring voting provision after SCOTUS ruling 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.