The lobbying campaigns, described to The Hill by half a dozen GOP strategists and aides, have angered many Republicans, who see any public chatter as disrespectful to a senator who has helped shape modern Arizona.
Chief among those upset is the man who would make an appointment, Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who issued a brushback pitch during a radio appearance last week.
"I have found it a little bit off color, some of the prognosticators and pundits who have been making these predictions as to the senator's outcome. I think people should be praying for him and rooting for him," Ducey told KTAR radio. "To the politicians out there that have been openly lobbying for this position, they've basically disqualified themselves by showing their true character."
Observers in Phoenix interpreted Ducey's comments as a shot at three politicians who have been open about their interest in a Senate seat: Rep. Paul Gosar (R), former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) and former Rep. Matt Salmon (R).