Republicans who are anxiously waiting to have a shot at the Senate seat have started their quiet jockeying to succeed Senator John McCain, even as he fights an aggressive battle against brain cancer.
This lobbying and jockeying of the campaigns have triggered anger in many Republicans who see this as a massive disrespect against the senator, who is alone credited for shaping up modern Arizona.
Among those who are most angry and upset with this campaigning, is Governor Doug Ducey, who went on to threaten such republicans by giving a brushback pitch during his radio interview last week.
“I have found it a little bit of color, some of the prognosticators and pundits who have been making these predictions as to the senator’s outcome. I think people should be praying for him and rooting for him,” Ducey said on the radio. “To the politicians out there that have been openly lobbying for this position, they’ve basically disqualified themselves by showing their true character.”
Observers interpreted Ducey’s statement to be targeting three politicians who have been strongly open about their intentions to replace McCain in Senate. These are Representatives Paul Gosar, ex-state Senator Kelli Ward, and former Representative Matt Salmon.
Gosar’s interest in being the part of Senate is hardly hidden, several Republican operatives said.
He already conducted a polling measure of his standing in the electoral race to replace the retiring, Senator Jeff Flake, early during this year. His chief of staff had emailed a member of Ducey’s staff about the Senatorial seat up for grabs and currently held by McCain as per three sources, with deep knowledge of the conversation.
“At this time my prayers are with Sen. McCain. There will be a time and a place for any political discussion in due course,” Gosar said in a statement.
Ward had already challenged McCain in 2016 elections and suggested McCain resign upon learning of his ailment said she is a suitable candidate to replace McCain.
“We are laser-focused on winning Jeff Flake’s seat, which we are in prime position to do,” said Ed Rollins, Ward’s campaign chairman. “If a situation arises where an appointment is needed, the governor should appoint another strong conservative, who can partner with Dr. Ward after she wins.”
Salmon, who is also lobbying for replacing McCain, took a more tactful approach for the matter, and said, “He has an interest in serving in the Senate, yes, but he has no interest in lobbying for a vacancy that doesn’t exist,” the source close to Salmon said. “He feels he has absolutely no role in that decision anyway.”