U.S. Sen. John McCain’s family announced Friday that he was discontinuing treatment for brain cancer. Since December, the six-term senator from Arizona and 2008 Republican presidential nominee has been at his home near Sedona.

McCain, 81, has been surrounded by family and friends. 

In his final days, questions about McCain’s life, political career, family and who may succeed him in the U.S. Senate have resurfaced.   

Here’s some key information about Arizona’s senior senator that you need to know.

His illness

McCain announced he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, called glioblastoma, in July 2017.  

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastoma tumors are typically malignant and difficult to treat.The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months, the association said. 

Since his diagnosis, McCain continued his Senate duties as much as he could and weighed in on policy and news developments via Twitter and press releases.

He returned once to D.C. after his initial treatment to cast the decisive vote on the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act

His political career

McCain first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and served for two terms before successfully running for U.S. Senate in 1986. He has been elected to six terms, the last in 2016.

He was an author of the McCain-Feingold Act regulating financing for federal political candidates and campaigns, which President Bush signed in 2002. He is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Throughout his career, McCain advocated for an aggressive U.S. foreign policy that attempted to resolve conflicts around the globe.    

He came to love the procedures and processes of the U.S. Senate. Citing a need to return to “regular order,” gave the last Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act a dramatic thumbs down, casting the deciding vote of 49-51.   

His runs for presidency

McCain twice ran for the presidency, in 2000 and in 2008. 

During his 2000 run, his primary rival was George W. Bush, who had the support of the party’s establishment. His bid for the Republican nomination alienated many conservatives. He eventually withdrew from the race after losing primaries to Bush on Super Tuesday that year. Later, McCain spoke in support of his former adversary. 

In 2006, McCain began redefining himself as an establishment Republican candidate to prepare for his 2008 presidential run. He formally announced his candidacy on April 25, 2007, and eventually won the Republican nomination for the presidency after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee conceded the race. 

McCain took on Democratic candidate Barack Obama, whose campaign of “Hope and Change” offered a clean break from Bush. McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, who generated some controversy, and failed to connect with voters on the economy, the most important issue at the time.   

Obama won the popular vote, 52.9 percent to 45.6 percent, and carried the Electoral College 365 to 173. In his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore, McCain graciously spoke of the significance of Obama’s win and would not try again for the White House.  

Who will succeed him?

McCain has not resigned from his seat and presumably will remain a U.S. senator until he dies.

When a Senate seat vacancy is declared, it will be up to Gov. Doug Ducey to fill the open spot. State law dictates that the replacement must be a Republican, as McCain is, and would serve in the Senate until voters elect a new senator in the next general election.  

Though there is a general election on Nov. 6, McCain’s successor would serve at least until the following general election in 2020.The winner of that election would serve the rest of McCain’s six-year term, which ends after the 2022 election in January 2023.

Nothing prevents Ducey from appointing himself, although he has repeatedly ruled himself out, and his spokesman has rebuked political pundits and national media for speculating who he might appoint to replace McCain. 

Barbara Barrett, a former U.S. ambassador, has emerged as one contender to fill McCain’s seat, but several other names also have been floated. 

His military career and time as a POW

In 1967, McCain, a bomber pilot, was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. The son and grandson of admirals and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, service was in his blood.

He narrowly survived a harrowing naval disaster on the USS Forrestal, three months before he was shot down in his aircraft over Hanoi on Oct. 26, 1967. North Vietnamese soldiers pulled his body from a lake and took him to Hanoi’s main prison. 

McCain was beaten and tortured while held captive. He was offered early release from prison in June 1968 but declined, saying it was not honorable. 

Gaunt and walking with a limp, Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McCain was released from North Vietnamese custody in March 1973 after more than five brutal years as a prisoner of war.

His family

McCain has seven children from two marriages

McCain married model Carol Shepp in 1965 in Philadelphia. He adopted her two school-age sons from a previous marriage, Doug and Andrew, and in 1966 they had a daughter, Sidney.

The couple eventually separated and divorced.

In 1979 McCain met a former cheerleader, Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a prominent Arizona beer distributor. Less than a year after he and Cindy met, he sought to divorce Carol. A month after that marriage was dissolved, he married Cindy in Phoenix in 1980. 

The couple had a daughter, Meghan, in 1984 and, shortly after, sons John Sidney McCain IV, known as Jack, and James, who goes by Jimmy.

The couple adopted their fourth child, Bridget, after Cindy met her during a humanitarian trip to Bangladesh in 1991.  

His retreat near Sedona

McCain has a residence in a Phoenix high rise but his Arizona retreat is in Cornville, an unincorporated community with a population of around 3,200 people, just west of Sedona.

Wedged between Sedona and Cottonwood, the family ranch is about 115 miles from Phoenix. Cornville has no town square and no traffic. There are four restaurants and two bars. There are no streetlights and no sidewalks. 

Cindy first saw Hidden Valley Ranch in 1983, and the couple spent the next 20 years transforming the land, building guest houses and buying the neighboring land. 

His last book

McCain released his final book, “The Restless Wave” in late May. It was the third book in an autobiographical trilogy that includes 1999’s “Faith of My Fathers” and 2002’s “Worth the Fighting For.”  

In it, he did not hold back his criticism of Washington, D.C., under President Donald Trump. He also suggested his garbled questioning of former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate hearing had to with his brain tumor. 

About the same time, HBO also released a documentary titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” a celebration of the Arizona senator’s life, in which many of his political allies and opponents described McCain’s life of service. 

His political feuds

Throughout his political career, McCain has found himself in the midst of political feuds, none more contentious than his recent battles with Trump.

Several of McCain’s intimates told the White House Trump would not be invited to McCain’s funeral. Trump once mocked McCain’s record as a POW during the Vietnam War, saying McCain is “a war hero because he was captured” and that he liked “people that weren’t captured.” It’s hardly the first or last insult the president hurled at McCain. 

Cindy and Meghan both lashed out on Twitter in May after reports surfaced that a White House special assistant, Kelly Sadler, said “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway” when speaking of McCain’s opposition to Trump’s CIA nominee, Gina Haspel. Sadler has since left the administration

MORE: Tweet by tweet: John McCain and Donald Trump feuded for years


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