Phoenix Council Member Sal DiCiccio urged Governor Doug Ducey to appoint former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican-turned-Democrat, to the late Senator John McCain's seat, according to a text message obtained by Phoenix New Times.
DiCiccio sent the message to Ducey on September 2, eight days after McCain's death from brain cancer. The text also went to Kirk Adams, Ducey's former chief of staff.
"Grant Woods was my first boss out of college working for then Congressman McCain. He was a great leader for our office and embodies the special relationship Sen McCain had for our state," DiCiccio wrote. "I cannot think of a better person to fill his shoes."
DiCiccio's recommendation went unheeded. Two days after DiCiccio's text to Ducey, the governor tapped former Senator Jon Kyl to fill McCain's seat. Kyl resigned at the end of 2018 and was replaced by Martha McSally.
Woods served as Arizona Attorney General as a Republican from 1991 to 1999. Before winning election to high office, Woods worked as chief of staff to McCain when the late senator was a congressman in the '80s. DiCiccio worked for Woods in McCain's office.
In recent years, Woods has re-emerged into public life as a critic of President Donald Trump. Following a political career as a moderate Republican, he switched his party affiliation to Democrat in November, three months before DiCiccio's tweet. Woods floated a 2020 run for now-Senator McSally's seat, but decided against it in February, reasoning that "the Democrats are not the problem right now."
Woods did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
In contrast to Woods, DiCiccio is a solidly conservative Republican. Another way of looking at DiCiccio's text to Ducey: A Trump-supporting city council member endorses for Senate a Trump-hating Republican who considered running for the same seat in 2020 as a Democrat.
In his message to Ducey, obtained under Arizona public records law, DiCiccio touted Woods as an "amazing boss." He also praised the former attorney general's leadership qualities.
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"Whomever you pick will need to meld the state and be able to win the next election," DiCiccio wrote. "Grant has a strong leadership quality that could not only do a fantastic job representing our state, but also show the leadership waltzes we need at the national level."
Ducey did not appear to respond to DiCiccio's text. The governor's office did not respond to an email seeking comment for this article.
Asked whether DiCiccio still believes Woods would have been a good pick, spokesperson Sam Stone said, "Yes." What does DiCiccio think of Ducey's decision to choose Kyl. "Good." How often does DiCiccio correspond with Ducey? "Not often." Did the council member speak with Woods about McCain's seat before sending his text to the governor? "No."
Former New Times staff writer Joseph Flaherty contributed reporting.