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Arizona gov taps McSally for McCain Senate seat

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Tuesday tapped outgoing Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyNew rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees The Seventeenth Amendment and the censure of Donald Trump Ex-astronaut Mark Kelly jokes about piloting congressional subway MORE (R-Ariz.) to fill the seat of the late GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party 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 TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills 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 FlakeKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Tanden's path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable On The Money: What's next for Neera Tanden's nomination 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 GallegoMore than 0K raised for Ohio mom arrested for leaving kids alone at motel to work GoFundMe set up for mother arrested after leaving kids alone while at work GOP Arizona rep urges vaccine priority for 'people that are here legally' 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.