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Passage of May 30 deadline means there will be one less Senate election in November

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is suffering from brain cancer, and reportedly in poor health. Republicans believe the passage of a May 30 deadline to hold a special election this year will lead Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to make an appointment to McCain's seat, if McCain leaves this year. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republicans believe a “potentially disastrous” special Senate election can be avoided in Arizona, Politico reported.

How could it be avoided?

At issue is whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will leave his seat this year. McCain is in poor health as he battles brain cancer. But the topic of his possible death is a touchy one for both Republicans and Democrats.

Based on their legal interpretation, Republicans believe May 30 was the last day a special election could be held for a Senate vacancy in the event that McCain leaves his seat before the end of the year. But they are not ruling out the possibility that Democrats may challenge their interpretation, according to the report.

The GOP maintains that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey can appoint a successor to McCain’s seat if he leaves after the May 30th deadline. If so, the appointed person would serve until the next general election in 2020.

In turn, that would increase Republicans’ chance of keeping the narrowly divided upper chamber, the report notes. Democrats do not appear to have a strategy to force a special election.

Democratic sources told Politico the general feeling is that it’s inappropriate to publicly discuss the possibility that McCain might not finish his term, even though it has deep political ramifications, the report states.

Republican lawmakers and strategists have also avoided addressing the topic.

If an appointment happens, Democrats could take action because there is a low chance of going to court combined with high political stakes.

“We anticipate the [Democrats] will try everything they can to make this a 2018 race, but the state law is being interpreted that it should be a 2020 race after today,” a Republican strategist in Arizona told Politico.

What are the deadlines?

Under Arizona law, the filing day cannot be less than 90 days before a special election. That means the filing deadline is May 30 because the Arizona primary election is Aug. 28.

“The filing deadline is today. [It takes] 6,000-plus signatures to qualify,” the strategist said. “How are you going to allow potential candidates to do that?... The ship has sailed.”


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