Don’t look for “Senator Ducey,” at least for the foreseeable future.
The governor is not considering appointing himself to the U.S. Senate should that become necessary if John McCain were to quit before the end of his term, according to press aide Daniel Scarpinato.
“Gov. Ducey has never and would never consider such a ridiculous notion, no matter the circumstances,” Scarpinato said in a Twitter posting this weekend. And if that were not definitive enough, he expanded on that in a message to Capitol Media Services.
“How much more clear can I be?” he asked.
The comments are designed to end days of what has become a guessing game since McCain revealed he has a particularly hard-to-treat form of brain cancer.
McCain himself has sent out repeated messages that while he is exploring various treatment options he intends to return to the Senate. That, however, has not stopped various suggestions and theories — and an outright claim by Kelli Ward, who lost to McCain in the 2016 Republican primary that he should step down and Ducey should name her as his replacement.
Ducey, who has been on vacation this past week, has maintained silence. Scarpinato said that’s by design.
“Our office has intentionally refused to engage in this gossip because it’s incredibly disrespectful,” he said in one Twitter message.
But that proved too much after some in the media pointed out that, at least legally speaking, Ducey apparently could select himself to fill any Senate vacancy that develops. Scarpinato again took to his keyboard to term that `irresponsible speculation run amok and misleading to Arizonans.”
He said it would have been one thing to throw out that idea if the governor had said or done something leading anyone to believe he would give up his current job as the state’s chief executive to become one of 100 senators. But that hasn’t happened.
What has happened has come from Ward who is trying to not only set herself up as heir apparent but also to send a message to McCain that his diagnosis is “grim,” that she believes he is dying, and that he should step aside for his own good.
“As a doctor, I’ve counseled people in similar situations and these end-of-life choices are never easy,” she said in a message on her campaign web site. “I usually advise terminal patients to reduce stress, relax, and spend times laughing with loved ones.”
And if his own self-interest is not enough to convince McCain to step aside, Ward said that the Senate has “complicated and difficult problems” to deal with.
“Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus on those challenges,” Ward wrote.
That “someone” who Ducey should consider naming, Ward told an Indiana radio station last week, should be her.
“I have a proven track record of years in the state Senate of being extremely effective and listening to the voice of the people that I represent,” she told WOWO. And Ward said she made “an extremely good showing” against McCain in the 2016 Republican primary, picking up 39.9 percent of the vote against 51.2 percent among the four names on the GOP ballot.
Scarpinato said there has been “no discussion” with Ward — or anyone else — about a potential appointment.
“We have zero attention focused on a ‘replacement’ and talk of this sort is completely inappropriate,” he said.
Ward has since announced her bid to unseat Jeff Flake, the state’s other incumbent senator, who is up for reelection in 2018.
This isn’t the first time that Ward has, in essence, said that McCain is dying, though the timing was a bit difference.
In an interview before last year’s GOP primary, she told Politico that if McCain, who was turning 80 at the time, were reelected he might not be able to finish the six-year term.
“I’m a doctor,” she said. “The life expectancy of the American male is not 86. It’s less.”