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Martha McSally lost, but she gets to join the Senate anyway

With her appointment, Arizona is joining a handful of states that have two female senators — in this case, two who were bitter adversaries just last month.

by Carter Sherman
Dec 18 2018, 5:03pm

Arizona elected its first female senator ever when Rep. Kyrsten Sinema won the midterms, also becoming the first Democrat to hold an Arizona Senate seat in decades. And now, Arizona is joining a handful of states to have not one but two female senators — in this case, two women who were bitter adversaries just last month.

On Tuesday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he’s appointing Republican Rep. Martha McSally to serve out the next two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s term in the Senate. While Republican Sen. Jon Kyl has so far served in McCain’s stead since his death in August, Kyl plans to step down at the end of the year.

In a statement explaining his choice, Ducey pointed to McSally’s 26 years in the military and six deployments to the Middle East. “Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of time,” he said, adding, "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’s appointment will last until 2020, when she will be eligible to run for the seat.

McSally ran against Sinema in the midterms last month in a brutal and bruising election for retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat. Not only did former fighter pilot McSally go after Sinema for “protesting us in a pink tutu” after 9/11 in an August ad, but she also accused Sinema, in an October debate, of supporting “treason” in a clip from a 15-year-old radio interview. (Sinema called the charges “ridiculous attacks.”)

Ultimately, McSally lost to Sinema by more than 55,000 votes.

A total of 25 women will now serve in the Senate next year, a record high, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Six states will have all-women Senate delegations.

Cover image: Martha McSally speaks at a campaign rally, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Sun City, Arizona. (AP Photo/Matt York)