Republican U.S. Senator, John Sidney McCain III, has died on Saturday at the age of 81, after battling brain cancer.
“Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28 p.m. on August 25, 2018. With the Senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years,” the family said in a statement.
McCain represented Arizona since 1982, first at the House of Representatives for two terms and then at the Senate for more than three decades – since 1986, during which he twice sought the presidency.
McCain ran for president in 2000, losing the Republican nomination to the eventual 43rd president, George W. Bush, and in 2008, he ran again, this time winning his party’s nomination. However, he lost the general election to former President Barack Obama.
McCain was widely celebrated as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967, and a few months earlier, he, then a Navy pilot, had survived a deadly fire on the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier.
The son and grandson of Navy admirals, McCain was held for more than five years in a Hanoi prison, where he was tortured and often deprived of sleep and food, and when he was offered early release by his captors, he refused to go home before the other Prisoners of war.
In the upper chamber of Congress, McCain established himself as a leading voice on national security and foreign policy, particularly from his chairmanship of the powerful Armed Services Committee.
He also cultivated a reputation as an independent willing to work with Democrats on immigration and campaign finance, and was a fierce critic of Russia and a strong proponent of an aggressive U.S. role against the Islamic State extremist group.
In July 2017, McCain was diagnosed with a tumour called a glioblastoma, which is an aggressive type of brain cancer but returned to the Senate after his diagnosis and cast a pivotal vote against a Republican bill to undo the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare.
Since December, he never returned to the Senate as he underwent treatment in Arizona, where he kept a low profile, issuing written statements on major news developments but offering the public few glimpses of his condition.
McCain collaborated with a long-time adviser, Mark Salter, on a memoir, “The Restless Wave,” that was released in May.
The senator is survived by his mother, Roberta; his wife, Cindy; two sons and a daughter from a first marriage, Douglas, Andrew and Sidney; four children from his second marriage, Meghan McCain, Jimmy McCain, Jack McCain and Bridget McCain; a brother, Joseph McCain; a sister, Jean McCain Morgan; and five grandchildren.
McCain’s death opens up a Senate seat that party leaders expect to remain in Republican hands for two more years because under state law, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would appoint a successor who must be from the same party as the person vacating the seat.
McCain died after the deadline to file for this year’s election, and as a result, the successor-senator would not have to face re-election until the 2020 election.