Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will appoint Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat, he announced Tuesday.
“There is no one in Arizona with the stature of Sen. Jon Kyl. He is a man without comparable peer,” Ducey said. “Sen. Kyl is prepared to hit the ground running.”
The decision will put a reliable conservative and former member of Senate GOP leadership in the seat temporarily — though it’s unclear whether it will be just through the end of the year or through 2020.
“People automatically assume that this appointment will serve through 2020 … What I have gotten [from Kyl] is a commitment to serve Arizona through at least this session of Congress, and I hope he serves longer,” Ducey said.
“I’m willing to serve certainly through the end of this session at least in order to make sure the business that is currently ongoing is taken care of but I don’t want to make a commitment beyond that,” Kyl said, before calling McCain his “dear friend.”
Whether Kyl serves for just months or through 2020 he will almost certainly serve as a placeholder, setting up what will likely be a contested race in 2020 in the GOP-leaning but purple-trending state.
If Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) doesn’t win her Senate election this fall against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), that leaves the door open for Ducey to then appoint her for the next two years. An election will be held to fill the final two years of McCain’s term in 2020.
Kyl retired in 2012 after a lengthy career in the Senate. But he didn’t go far — he’s worked as a lobbyist since then. He’s currently working as a top adviser to Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Republicans try to get him confirmed to the Supreme Court, and now will soon get to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Ducey touted this in his announcement, making it the first policy-related point he mentioned in his announcement.
“Now, Sen. Kyl can cast a vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Ducey said.
Cindy McCain, the senator’s widow, tweeted congratulations to Kyl, a longtime friend of McCain’s, before the announcement was official.
Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s. It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona.
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) September 4, 2018