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Valley political expert does not expect McCain to resign Wednesday

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

PHOENIX — Wednesday marks the last day that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) could step down from his position to allow Arizonans to elect his replacement in November.

But Stan Barnes, a Valley political expert, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that he does not think the Arizona Republican will resign by that date. If McCain leaves office before his term expires but after Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey would be tasked with appointing his successor.

“The political world has been waiting to see John McCain’s health condition and whether or not he would resign his U.S. Senate seat in time for any appointee to be compelled to be on the 2018 ballot,” Barnes said.

“But that looks like its not going to happen this year.”

Barnes said Wednesday marked “the line in the sand where an appointee for that time would need to be on the ballot.” Applicants who declare their candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat after that day would not be expected to be on the ballot until 2020.

Arizona will already have one open Senate seat on the ballot in 2018: U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced last year that he would not seek re-election, citing the “Trump factor” as a reason.

“The headline is — after a lot of speculation about John McCain’s health — two U.S. Senate seats being on the ballot on the same time in Arizona, a historical first, is not going to happen in 2018,” Barnes said.

But that does not mean there have not been people vying for the senator’s position: Barnes said “some ambitious people” have already tried to curry favor with Ducey — and have immediately been shut down.

“It has been in such bad taste to do so that anyone who has called [Ducey] and sought an appointment before John McCain has resigned the office was immediately disqualified from ever being appointed in that scenario.”

However, Barnes believes that Ducey will appoint a candidate who will be “super qualified,” but might not “be someone in the political world.

“Should John McCain resign his office sometime before his term is over, if Gov. Doug Ducey gets that chance he’ll appoint someone who everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s a super qualified person,’ but it might not be someone in the political world. He may surprise us,” he added.

“The political world is a small world and there have been a few names of people who have been thrown around of people who could step in immediately, like former Sen. Jon Kyl.

“The big question would be, if John McCain were to resign his office, does the Republican governor appoint someone that is destined to hold the seat long-term or is just going to fill it out with style and class appropriately and not run again?”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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