Arizona Rep. Martha McSally's 2018 has been a whirlwind—she jumped into one of the closest-watched Senate races of the cycle, fending off a competitive challenge from her right flank before falling short to Democratic Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema.
McSally won a consolation prize when Arizona Republican Gov. Steve Ducey appointed her to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCain (by way of Jon Kyl, who filled the seat for the three months after McCain's death).
But that appointment thrusts her into an electoral gauntlet, as she'll have a tough fight ahead of her to keep her seat.
The first challenge is straightforward—the calendar. McSally will have to defend the seat in 2020 because appointments only last until the next general election. And then she'll have to run again in 2022 because that's when McCain's seat is normally up for reelection.
But she also faces further challenges too, both from within her party and in a general election.
Once she joins the Senate, she'll once again have to face the difficult, if familiar task of navigating life as a Republican in the Trump era.
McSally moved to her right during the 2018 GOP primary as Republicans Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio took aim at her right flank. But that shift cost her in the general election, as Democrats tied her to President Trump.
She'll have to do that same balancing act again to protect herself from a credible primary challenge but be ready for a general election, which Democrats will likely contest hard after their 2018 victory.
McSally is certainly no stranger to a tough election, as she's been running hard her entire political career first for he competitive House seat and now for the Senate.
And she's turned it around before—after a tight loss in 2012 in the race to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, McSally ran again in 2014 and won by yet another razor-thin margin.
She'll need to replicate that effort again in 2020, convincing a majority of voters to back her just two years after they chose someone else.