Editorial: Political history on Ducey’s side in shying away from interest in McCain’s job

Perhaps Governor Doug Ducey is perfectly content in his present position.

Perhaps he sees himself best suited for state-level government service vs. the same at the federal level.

Perhaps Gov. Ducey thinks it bad form to even discuss appointing himself to Sen. John McCain’s U.S. Senate seat should the maverick Republican have to relinquish his position because of health issues.

Or, just maybe Gov. Ducey has done his homework and realizes such action is a political kiss of death.

Ducey, through his press aide Daniel Scarpinato, is adamant that he will not appoint himself to serve out McCain’s term should the veteran U.S. Senator resign.

That’s probably a wise move, Political Junkie by Ken Rudin reports that throughout U.S. history governors who appoint or manipulate themselves into a U.S. Senate seat often end up getting the boot when voters get the chance to weigh in on the matter. Some go the route of self-appointment, while others resign their post and have their successor appoint them to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy.

Rudin cites several examples of governors who have self-appointed or had their gubernatorial successor appoint then to fill a U.S. Senate seat. In most every case, they lost the seat in the subsequent election.

“Of all the governors who had themselves appointed to the Senate,” wrote Rudin, “only one was able to win a subsequent election on his own. Kentucky Gov. Albert B. “Happy” Chandler (D), who came to the Senate in 1939, won in a special election in 1940 and again in 1942. (He resigned his seat in 1945 to become baseball commissioner.)”

By contrast, there is a well-known Arizona instance where a politician became governor via succession and turned out to be one of the most revered governors in Arizona history.

Bruce Babbitt’s ascendancy to the governor’s office was a political fluke.

In 1977, Wesley Bolin became Arizona’s governor when Jimmy Carter appointed Gov. Raul Castro to become ambassador to Argentina. Bolin died five months later and Attorney General Bruce Babbitt was next in the succession line to become governor, as the sitting secretary of state had been appointed to the job – Bolin’s former position – and Babbitt was the next available elected position to fill the seat. He served as Arizona’s governor from 1978 to 1987, and as the United States Secretary of the Interior from 1993 through 2001 under President Bill Clinton.

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