Gov. Doug Ducey has appointed retired Sen. Jon Kyl to replace the late Sen. John McCain — at least in the short term.
Kyl, a conservative Republican, served with McCain in the Senate from 1995 through 2013. He is well-versed in water policy and has worked on complex water negotiations, such as the Indian Water Rights settlement.
His reputation in the Senate was as a workhorse on nuts-and-bolts matters, and he was an early and staunch supporter of immigration reform. Together with McCain, Kyl advocated comprehensive fixes to the border security system and a common-sense guest-worker program.
Since leaving the Senate after three terms, Kyl has been a lobbyist. He has been named in The Hill’s annual “Top Lobbyists: Hired Guns” list, and has represented defense and drug companies in Washington, D.C.
Kyl will give Republicans a cushion in the Senate for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, Kyl has been working with Kavanaugh during the confirmation process. Such a calculation could not have gone unnoticed by Ducey.
Kyl brings experience and continuity to the position, but his appointment also gives Ducey political flexibility. If Martha McSally, a Republican, wins in November against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, Ducey will have time to identify and vet a longer-term replacement, if needed.
If McSally loses, Kyl could step down and Ducey could appoint her to the Senate. If Kyl does not resign before 2020, he would face election to determine who would serve out the rest of McCain’s term, until 2022.
Kyl is a fitting replacement for McCain. He’s staunchly conservative and has not been chummy with or fawning of President Trump. We do not agree with Kyl on most issues, but we agree with Ducey that he is a fitting replacement for McCain.