Texts Confirm Rep. Gosar Jockeyed to Replace an Ailing John McCain

Arizona’s Governor Ducey, who would appoint successor, is not entertaining speculation about McCain’s seat

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., reportedly has sought to replace Sen. John McCain. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., reportedly has sought to replace Sen. John McCain. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 27, 2018 at 9:26am

Rep. Paul Gosar has sought to win the favor of Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey and replace Sen. John McCain, a text exchange between two aides for the congressman and governor confirms.

In December, one day after McCain’s office announced he had been hospitalized for his cancer treatment, Gosar’s chief of staff, Thomas Van Flein, texted Ducey’s attorney at the time about potentially sliding into McCain’s Senate seat, the Arizona Republic reported.

Ducey would be in charge of appointing McCain’s successor should the longtime Republican senator leave office or die before his term ends in 2023.

McCain, 81, has been home in Arizona for months dealing with complications from cancer treatment. The senator has been battling glioblastoma, an aggressive strain of brain cancer, for nearly a year. He has not indicated he plans to retire.

Gosar has reportedly been interested for months in vying to be McCain’s replacement, a move that has irritated people in McCain’s camp.

“In a meeting, I’ll call you back,” Mike Liburdi, Ducey’s then-attorney, wrote to Van Flein on Dec. 14.

It was unclear from the public records release obtained by the Arizona Republic what form of communication — an email, text message, phone call — Liburdi was responding to, but Van Flein answered with a text.

“Ok! Just calling to let u know Gosar is interested in the McCain seat and he wants to talk with your boss,” Van Flein wrote back.

Ducey has criticized the maneuverings of Gosar and others to be McCain’s replacement should he leave office before his term ends.

McCain is “our senator until 2022,” the governor has said.

“This is a genuine American hero who is battling for his life, fighting a deadly disease. I, for one, think he has earned Arizona’s and America’s respect,” Ducey said of McCain in an interview with KTAR radio in Arizona in May.

“What he’s got from me is my support and my prayers. To me, there is no vacancy.”

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