Former GOP foe urges cancer-stricken McCain to quit so she can get seat

Former State Sen. Kelli Ward, who's running against Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in next year's primary, says cancer-stricken Sen. John McCain should resign "as quickly as possible" and Arizona's governor should think about naming her to replace him.

Here's what Ward told an Indiana radio station Thursday:

"I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this, that his family and his advisers are going to look at this, and they're going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible, so that the business of the country and the business of Arizona being represented at the federal level can move forward." 

Ward, who was defeated by McCain in his Senate primary last year, made the comments the day after doctors revealed the 80-year-old McCain had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

"As a Christian I know there can always be miracles," said Ward, who is a family doctor in Lake Havasu City.

"But the likelihood that John McCain is going to come back to the Senate and be at full force for the people of our state and the people of the United States is low."

Under Arizona law, if McCain resigned, Gov. Doug Ducey would have to name a replacement from the same party. A special election for McCain's seat would then be held in November 2018.

When asked if she wanted to be considered as a McCain replacement, Ward said: "I certainly hope so... I made an extremely good showing against Sen. McCain, against all odds... I am beating the pants off Jeff Flake already."

McCain won his 2016 Republican primary with 51.2 percent of the vote in a four-person field. Ward finished second, with 40 percent of the vote.

A recent survey showed Flake was one of the most unpopular senators in the country. There has been no publicly released polling on a Flake-Ward matchup.

Ward said the potential loss of McCain's vote in the Senate while he underwent treatment could hurt the Republican agenda.

"We can't be at a standstill while we wait for John McCain to determine what he's going to do," Ward said.

Ward tweeted this message after McCain's diagnosis was made public:

Earlier this week, the Ward campaign canceled a scheduled joint appearance and an "intimate dinner" next week in Scottsdale with Roger Stone, a Trump aide and political provocateur. Stone had claimed in a Phoenix radio interview Tuesday that McCain was "mentally ill... He's a nut case."

A Ward spokeswoman told The Yellow Sheet that the cancellation was the result of a scheduling conflict.

Stone is still set to speak to Pima County Republicans next week.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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