McCain's successor expected to be picked after week of memorials

Key Points
  • Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to name a successor to John McCain following this week's memorial services for the late senator. 
  • The person who replaces McCain would face a special election in 2020, followed by another election in 2022 at the end of McCain's term. 
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 
William Thomas Cain | Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey expects to pick a successor to the late Republican Sen. John McCain following a series of memorial services this week.

McCain, a longtime lawmaker, GOP presidential nominee and occasional thorn in President Donald Trump's side, died Saturday at age 81 after a struggle with brain cancer. The Navy veteran, who survived years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, will be laid to rest Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

State law dictates that the governor appoints someone to fill the open Senate seat. Ducey, a Republican, will wait until McCain is buried to name a replacement in the Senate.

"Out of respect for the life and legacy of Senator John McCain and his family, Governor Ducey will not be making any announcements about an appointment until after the Senator is laid to rest," Ducey advisor Daniel Ruiz II said in a statement over the weekend, according to AZ Central.

The governor is expected to restore the GOP's 51-49 seat majority in the Senate as members go through the critical decision of whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's second choice for the Supreme Court during his presidency. While it is unclear now who Ducey will pick, reports suggest state Republicans could push him in two vastly different directions: a GOP senator with an independent streak who emulates McCain, or a Republican who aims to be a champion of Trump's agenda.

Ducey's choice would serve at least through 2020. The state would hold a special election that year to fill the remainder of McCain's term through 2022, according to Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the Arizona secretary of state's office.

Another election for McCain's seat would take place in 2022, because the senator won re-election for a six-year term in 2016.