Sen. Mitch McConnell pays tribute to outgoing Sen. Martha McSally

Dec 1, 2020, 2:30 PM | Updated: 2:57 pm

PHOENIX – Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute to outgoing Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona on Tuesday, a day before her successor was set to be sworn in.

“She departs with a long list of accomplishments and every reason to hold her head high,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“Wherever life after the Senate takes her, I’m confident our colleague will continue to be the most enthusiastic advocate for her state for its people, its prosperity and its natural wonders.”

McSally delivered her final speech on the Senate floor two weeks ago.

McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky, detailed McSally’s military service and how it carried over into her political career.

“For the last two years, Sen. McSally has held the seat formerly occupied by our dear friend John McCain,” he said. “It’s only fitting that our Maverick was followed by a fellow veteran and pilot who’s approached her service to the people of Arizona with such unabashed pride.”

McCain died in August 2018 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer and with four years remaining on his sixth term. Under state law, Gov. Doug Ducey had to select a member of McCain’s party to hold the seat until the next scheduled statewide election.

After an interim stint by Jon Kyl, Ducey appointed McSally to the seat. She took the oath of office in January 2019.

She’d served in the U.S. House before then, but in November 2018 lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the race for the seat vacated by Jeff Flake.

Democrat Mark Kelly defeated McSally in last month’s election and will be sworn in Wednesday. Kelly will serve the remainder of McCain’s term and faces reelection in 2022.

Because McSally was appointed, Kelly became eligible to start his new job once the state certified its election results Monday.

McConnell’s tribute to McSally was filled with personal touches, including a reference to Boomer, her beloved golden retriever.

“So Martha, on behalf of not just the Senate, but the nation, thank you so much for your service to our country — in uniform and here in the Senate,” he concluded.

“We wish you all the best in the bright days to come.”

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Sen. Mitch McConnell pays tribute to outgoing Sen. Martha McSally