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Rep. Martha McSally appointed to finish McCain's term in Senate

Rep. McSally appointed to fill Senate seat

Arizona Republican Rep. Martha McSally has been appointed to finish the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain's term in the Senate. McSally lost a Senate bid in November to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, but they'll both be heading to the Senate chamber in January. 

Gov. Steve Ducey, a Republican, announced that he was appointing McSally, a decorated Air Force combat veteran, to the seat on Tuesday. "All her life, Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times," on Tuesday. 

GOP 2016 House Women
Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. in 2016 Molly Riley / AP

"She served 26 years in the military; deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan; was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat; and she's represented Southern Arizona in Congress for the past four years," Ducey said. "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."

McSally told reporters on Tuesday that despite the acrimonious Senate campaign, she would work with Sinema to represent Arizona as senators from the state have historically worked together.

"I also look forward to working with Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate, just like we did in the House," McSally said.

Ducey originally appointed former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl to fill the vacancy created by McCain's death. Kyl later announced he would step down at the end of the year, paving the way for McSally, whose appointment makes Arizona one of only a handful of states with two female U.S. Senators. 

McSally and Sinema's hard-fought contest was considered one of the biggest toss-ups of the 2018 midterms, but ultimately Sinema prevailed. Before her victory, Arizona had never sent a woman to the Senate before.

McCain served 31 years in the Senate before his death from causes related to cancer in August. He was also the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, and an elder statesman in his party. He was last elected to the Senate in 2016, meaning that his term will be up in 2022. McSally will have to run to keep the seat in the next congressional election in 2020 and again in 2022.