Cindy McCain wields quiet influence over Senate replacement

Cindy McCain weeps over her husband’s casket at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants her approval heading into a tough gubernatorial election

By Christopher Cadelago, Daniel Strauss and Daniel Lippman | POLITICO

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s widow Cindy hasn’t expressed any desire to serve out her late husband’s term in Washington — but she will wield immense influence over the selection of his replacement.

More than a dozen McCain family friends and Republicans familiar with the search said that while Cindy McCain isn’t expected to take an active political role, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to avoid alienating her as he heads into a tough reelection fight.

“If the family expressed interest in a particular attribute that McCain’s successor would have,” said Arizona Republican strategist Chuck Coughlin, “my instinct is that [Ducey] would honor that.”

In interviews, McCain friends said Cindy McCain hadn’t brought up politics in recent weeks. “She spent the last year at John’s side as they’ve gotten through this illness and that’s all that she’s been focused on,” said one friend.

But Cindy McCain became a flashpoint in the gubernatorial race after Ducey’s opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary, Ken Bennett, vowed in May not to appoint her to her husband’s seat — a pledge that was interpreted by many as a play for conservative votes by Bennett, who made his name as Arizona secretary of state by calling for independent verification of former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate before he could be listed on state ballots.


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September 2018