State lawmakers in Arizona are sparring over legislation that would give a Republican successor to Sen. John McCain a pass on having to stand for election in November even if the ailing six-term senator resigns or dies before the end of next month. Leaders of the Republican-controlled state Senate say they plan a vote next week on the measure, which could have implications on control of the U.S. Senate and has intensified the spotlight on the health of McCain (R-Ariz.), who is battling brain cancer. Democrats have cried foul and are vowing to block the bill, which they say reflects how worried Republicans are about defending GOP-held seats, even in a red state like Arizona. The state’s other U.S. Senate seat is also on the ballot in November, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is not seeking reelection.
Under current law, a McCain successor appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) after May does not have to stand for election until 2020. The legislation in question expands that window to include anyone appointed between now and then, as well.
“They don’t want to have to go up against the voters,” state Sen. Steve Farley (D), the assistant minority leader, said of the Republican leadership, adding that everyone’s hope is that McCain recovers.