Gosar Expressed Interest in McCain's Senate Seat

Jul 26, 2018

An Arizona Republican congressman sought to arrange a meeting with the state's governor to discuss interest in replacing ailing Sen. John McCain within hours of reports the former presidential candidate had been hospitalized last December, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Republican Rep. Paul Gosar
Credit Arizona Republic/file

Rep. Paul Gosar's chief of staff, Thomas Van Flein, conveyed the northern Arizona congressman's interest in replacing McCain, R-Arizona, to Gov. Doug Ducey's then-attorney, Mike Liburdi, a day after a December 2017 announcement that McCain had been hospitalized following his cancer treatment, The Arizona Republic reported .

The newspaper obtained a transcript of texts from the governor's office in response to a June 12 request under the Arizona Public Records Law.

The Republic said the brief text exchange began at 11:56 a.m. Dec. 14, less than 24 hours after reports of McCain's hospitalization in Bethesda, Maryland.

"In a meeting, I'll call you back," Liburdi wrote to Gosar's chief of staff.

It is unclear whether he was responding to a phone call, text message or some other form of communication.

Gosar's chief of staff responded, "Ok! Just calling to let u know Gosar is interested in the McCain seat and he wants to talk with your boss."

The requested conversation did not occur, said Daniel Ruiz, a senior adviser to Ducey.

Van Flein said Wednesday that he wanted to set up a meeting "so Congressman Gosar could chat with the governor" given the aggressiveness of McCain's diagnosis, "and that responsible people needed to make plans for transitions."

McCain's hospitalization came amid speculation about his future, following his July 2017 diagnosis of glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

The sitting governor would pick McCain's replacement in the event McCain's seat was to open because of his resignation or death. There has been no widespread call for the 81-year-old McCain to resign.

McCain has remained in Arizona since December, and regularly issues tweets about his opinions involving President Donald Trump.