Points By Drew Pritt

Who Succeeds John McCain in the Senate
June 13, 2008, 8:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Should John McCain pull of a remarkable win, and even odds are he will, it will fall to a Democratic Governor to name his successor. So the question is who will the Governor appoint?


The Governor, who is completing her second term and is term-limited is by far the top candidate to be appointed, or to eventually run and win this seat. Considering this was originally Carl Hayden’s Senate seat, whomever is appointed is going to be the fourth occupant of this seat since Arizona became a state i 1912. Napolitano originally was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. She is Arizona’s third female governor, and the first female to win re-election. In November 2005, Time magazine named her one of the five best governors in the U.S. In 1991, while a partner with the private Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca LLP, Napolitano served as attorney for Anita Hill. Anita Hill testified in the U.S. Senate that then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had addressed her inappropriately ten years earlier when she was his subordinate at the federal EEOC. In 1993, Napolitano was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States attorney for the District of Arizona. As U.S. attorney, she was involved in the investigation of Michael Fortier of Kingman, Arizona, in connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. She ran for and won the position of Arizona’s Attorney General in 1998. Her tenure focused on consumer protection issues and improving general law enforcement. Napolitano advocates education and immigration reform. As a Democratic governor, Napolitano sought funding for the public education system, health care programs, teachers pay, state government workers pay, and prison employees pay. She signed legislation that offered voluntary full day kindergarten throughout Arizona. Napolitano opened the nation’s first state counter-terrorism center, signed legislation for a prescription drug card for seniors nd signed into law property and income tax cuts, which were proposed by the Republican legislature. In her first year as governor, the state’s budget improved from a billion-dollar deficit in the year after the September 11, 2001 attacks to a billion-dollar surplus, without a tax increase. Every budget Napolitano has signed has been balanced. However, the projected 2008 budget has a deficit of $1 billion. Napolitano received a low grade from the libertarian Cato Institute for fiscal spending, citing the fact that her budgets annually increased spending by an average of 6% over the previous year’s total. Napolitano’s position on budget issues has been to defend education spending as “investing in what matters”, citing the benefits of academic achievement and economic growth. Napolitano could appoint a placeholder to hold the seat for two years as she prepares a Senate bid. U.S. Congressman John Shadegg III (R) is already lining up support to prepare to run in 2010. Napolitano could appoint a placeholder to keep the seat till she finishes her term as Governor.


Bruce Babbitt is the chief candidate for such a scenario. Babbitt was elected Attorney General of Arizona in 1974. When Governor Wesley Bolin (D) died in office on March 4, 1978, Babbitt succeeded to the office of Governor. As governor, Babbitt left a significant legacy of environmental accomplishment. He expanded Arizona’s state park system and engineered passage of the comprehensive Arizona Groundwater Management Act of 1980. He also worked to create the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. In 1979, Babbitt was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a six month investigation of the March, 1979 accident at a commercial nuclear power plant at Middletown, Pennsylvania. Babbitt sought the Democratic Party’s 1988 nomination for President of the United States. Among his proposals was a national sales tax to remedy the then-record budget deficits piled up during the several past administrations. He enjoyed positive press attention (called a “boomlet” in USA Today), but after finishing out of the top tier of candidates in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, he dropped out of the race. After leading the League of Conservation Voters, Babbitt served for eight years, 1993-2001, as the United States Secretary of the Interior during Bill Clinton’s administration. As Secretary of the Interior, Babbitt actively worked to protect scenic and historic areas of America’s federal public lands. In 2000, Babbitt created the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of 15 national monuments and 14 national conservation areas to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management in such a way as to keep them “healthy, open, and wild.” He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S.


Napolitano could choose to appoint someone who certainly deserves this honor to cap off an incredible and yet hardluck career. Warner has gained national stature as one of America’s most articulate educational and public policy leaders. A product of pioneering Oklahoma stock, her father was an Oklahoma State Senator, teacher, and newspaper publisher in whose honor the first public school in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory was named. Her mother, also a teacher, served as a school principal in both Oklahoma and California. Carolyn Warner is a motivational, inspirational, informative speaker of uncommon skill who uses her distinctive voice and strong presence to entertain, challenge and rouse her audiences. She is an active story teller who delivers a powerful, substantive message through use of lively humor, keen observation, hard facts and clear vision. Warner was elected to three terms as AZ State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In 1986, she was her party’s nominee for governor. Warner has served a number of Presidential Commissions, appointed by both Republican and Democratic administrations. She was 1995 Presidential delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business. At present, she serves on 12 national and state-level boards, and in ’95, received a Congressional appointment to the newly-formed National Skill Standards Board. This 28-member board, comprised of leaders from business, education and government, recommends skill standards to prepare American workers for the 21st century.

Napolitano could forgo a Senate bid and focus on challenging Jon Kyl in 2012 or contemplate her own Presidential bid in 2012 should Obama have faltered and McCain elected. In that case there are a few Democrats who would be wanting to step up.


JIM PEDERSON, U.S. Congresswoman GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, PAUL JOHNSON, U.S. Congressman ED PASTOR, and former U.S. Congresswoman KARAN ENGLISH are all prime candidates to run for this seat.

Pederson is a self-funder and former Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party who came within 5 points of beating Senator Jon Kyl (R) in 2006. Though he lost his efforts on his behalf came up short, he did enable other Democrats to win.

Giffords is one of those candidates who benefited from Pederson’s efforts. She is a close ally of Governor Napolitano and a rising star in the party. She pulled an upset in winning the seat of Jim Kolbe (R) who retired. She is Arizona’s first Jewish congresswoman.

Paul Johnson is another former Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party and in 1998 was the nominee for Governor. In 1990, Paul was elected Mayor of Phoenix – the eighth largest city in America. At the age of 30, after serving only four years on the Phoenix City Council, Paul became the youngest Mayor of a major American city. In 1998, Governor Jane Dee Hull (R) beat Johnson handily, 51%-39%.

Today Paul serves as a board member of Habitat for Humanity, a member of ASU’s Blue Ribbon advisory committee, a member of the Make-a-Wish advisory board, Phoenix Little Theater Advisory Board, and a member of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He has been active in numerous school communities focusing on safety and school uniforms. Paul has been chosen Arizona Citizen of the Year, one of the Phoenix J.C.’s outstanding young men of 1989, and one of the Best Young Men in America.

In 1991, Pastor won a special election to succeed 28-year incumbent Democrat Mo Udall in the 2nd District. He was the first Latino to represent Arizona in Congress. At the time, the 2nd was the only Democratic bastion in Arizona. He easily won a full term in 1992. He was reelected four times without substantive Republican opposition, never dropping below 60% of the vote. After the 2000 United States Census, Arizona gained two congressional districts. Pastor’s former territory was renumbered as the 7th District, but his home was drawn into the newly created 4th District. Rather than move to the Phoenix portion of the reconfigured 7th, Pastor opted to run in the 4th. The newly created district is heavily Democratic, like Pastor’s old district; Democrats have a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in registration. He has been reelected in the new district ever since.

English represented Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, which in the 1990s included much of Mesa, Scottsdalem and northeast Arizona. Prior to her election to the U.S. House of Representatives, English served as an Arizona State Senator, State Representative, and Coconino County Supervisor. English has developed a reputation as a liberal on fiscal, social and environmental issues. After serving a single term in Congress, English was defeated by Republican challenger J.D. Hayworth in 1994. English is now involved with the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University.


13 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

Comment by Jamie Holts

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Comment by Jamie Holts

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Comment by Jamie Holts

Great analysis, but state law dictates the replacement be from the same party as the departing Senator. In other words, it has to be a Republican.

Comment by AZace

Two problems with this post. 1). The governor is required by law to appoint someone of the same party as the person leaving, so she would have to appoint a Republican. All of the names you mentioned are Democrats. 2). Jim Pederson actually lost his senate bid by almost 10 points, not five. He was embarrassing at best and better off being who he is, a super-rich shopping mall developer that paves over pristine desert.

Comment by Gary

Looks like “Jaime Holts” has a crush on you. Or he suffers from short term memory, that’s why he left seven posts that say similar things. Your blog post was nicely substantive, but misinforms readers that a democrat can be appointed. Civic ignorance is a big problem as it is and things like this only perpetuate it.

Comment by Janeyfan

Janeyfan ignorance of one’s location and jumping into attack someone without taking care to read other articles is just as big of a problem if not more.

I addressed the issue of Senate vacancies and while Republicans like to perpetuate this notion that local control is dominant the U.S. Constitution and tradition supercedes the authority of states. Therefore should Napolitano choose to nominate a Democrat, it’s allowed by the FEDERAL Constitution which trumps State Constitutions in these circumstances. I believe a war was fought over that concept where the FEDERAL school of thought defeted the Confederate.

Comment by drewpritt

Drew, Arizona State law requires the Governor appoint a member of the same party of the Senator who vacates the seat. None of these candidates are eligible. It’ll have to be a Republican.

Comment by Bobbie

Oops. I didn’t read your latest post. I retract my original post.

Comment by Bobbie

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