Martha McSally Lost Arizona Senate Election but Republicans Still Give Her a Seat

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has picked outgoing Republican congresswoman and 2018 Senate loser Martha McSally to fill the late Senator John McCain's seat next year. McSally will serve the remaining two years of McCain's term.

"All her life, Martha has put service first—leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times," Ducey said in a 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 lost a tight Senate race to Representative Kyrsten Sinema last month to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake.

"I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve and be a voice for all Arizonans," McSally said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema and getting to work from day one."

After McSally, an ally of President Donald Trump, lost her election, some Republican donors and officials reportedly warned Ducey against nominating her to a Senate seat.

"This appointment makes the seat harder to defend than if Ducey would have appointed someone more palatable to the electorate," Arizona-based GOP donor Dan Eberhart said to Roll Call on Tuesday.

Democratic strategists suggested Tuesday that appointing McSally to Senate fresh off of a Senate-race loss was undemocratic.

"Big slap in the face to democracy to appoint someone Arizona voters rejected last month," wrote Zac Petkanas, president of Petkanas Strategies and former Hillary Clinton staffer.

Jesse Ferguson, former deputy press secretary to Hillary Clinton, compared McSally's nomination to Governor Scott Walker's attempts to erode Democratic power in Wisconsin.

"IN WISCONSIN: Voters elected Democrats, so GOP over rode voters by taking away Gov's power," he tweeted. "IN ARIZONA: Voters elected Democrats, so GOP over rode voters by appointing the GOP's health care repealer anyway." McSally supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director Lauren Passalacqua also questioned the choice. "McSally was a weak candidate who ran a disrespectful campaign, and lied about her record of voting to gut pre-existing conditions coverage for 2.8 million Arizonans. Voters rejected her once, and will do so again," she wrote in a statement.

McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat who served through six deployments to the middle east and Afghanistan, will replace Senator Jon Kyl who temporarily filled McCain's seat this year.

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President Donald Trump welcomes Rep. Martha McSally to the stage during a rally at the International Air Response facility on October 19, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. Ralph Freso/Getty Images