Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl has agreed to fill in for the late John McCain at least until the end of the year following McCain’s death to brain cancer in August.
Kyl, age 76, is an attorney who served in the US House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. He was then elected to the Senate, where he served alongside McCain from 1995 to 2013. He was the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate when he stepped down in 2013.
Kyl was appointed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who has unilateral authority to choose a temporary replacement for McCain.
The choice was celebrated by President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and McCain’s widow Cindy.
“Jon Kyl will be an extraordinary Senator representing an extraordinary state, Arizona. I look forward to working with him!” tweeted Trump.
“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,” said Cindy.
The political stakes of Ducey’s choice are high considering it is likely Kyl will participate in Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote. He is also rejoining the Senate at a time when Democrats are gearing up to take control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections.
Kyl said he is unsure whether he will remain in the Senate until November 2020, when there will be a special election to determine who will fulfill the final two years of McCain’s term. A full six-year term will be up for grabs in 2022.
“I haven’t been able to get that assurance from Senator Kyl yet,” said Ducey. “What I have gotten is a commitment to serve Arizona through at least this session of Congress, and it’s my hope that he serves longer.”
Ducey is running for re-election this fall.