Court upholds Ducey’s decision on U.S. Senate election

Martha McSally can keep the U.S. Senate seat she was given by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Photo by HowSen. Martha McSally in December 2018 when Gov. Doug Ducey announced he would tap her the following month to replace Sen. John McCain.
Photo; Howard Fischer /Capitol Media Services

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services

Martha McSally can keep the U.S. Senate seat she was given by Gov. Doug Ducey through at least the end of the year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In an extensive ruling, the three-judge panel concluded that Arizona law gives the governor broad discretion in deciding when to call a special election to fill an unexpired term. In this case, they said, Ducey was within his power to call the election for later this year – four years into the term of the late Sen. John McCain – rather than earlier.

Judge Milan Smith Jr., writing for the court, acknowledged that there will be a 27-month gap between the August 2018 death of John McCain and the chance for voters to decide who they want in office. Ducey initially appointed former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, replacing him with McSally in January 2019.

At the heart of the fight is the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which took the power to name U.S. senators away from state lawmakers.

It also says when there are vacancies the governor “shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.” Ducey did that, setting the primary for Aug. 25 of this year and the general election for Nov. 3 to determine who fills out the rest of the term which ends at the end of 2022.

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