Former Republican Sen. Kyl to replace McCain, bolstering conservatives

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images North America

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images North America

Doug Ducey was to announce his decision on Tuesday.

Doug Ducey is appointing former U.S. Sen Jon Kyl to take the Senate seat of the late John McCain. "It's a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona", she wrote on Twitter.

Ducey said he received an abundance of advice on the appointment - much of it unsolicited, the governor joked.

Kyl was an Arizona Senator from 1995 to 2013. 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. There, he served as Senate Minority Whip, the second-highest ranking position in the Republican conference. Kyl will serve until at least the end of the year; should he choose not to serve beyond the remainder of 2018, Ducey will have to name another replacement to serve out the rest of McCain's term. State law prescribes how a vacant seat in Congress is filled after a death, resignation or expulsion.

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The appointment brings a more conservative bent to the Senate given Kyle's voting record and how it veers from that of McCain, a maverick who sometimes collaborated with Democrats on major legislation. This is the firm helping President Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, get through confirmation hearings that began this week. Kyl's appointment will make it possible for him to vote for the nomination.

Kyl is an experienced foreign policy hand and will be entering a narrowly divided Senate where Republicans could gain or lose seats in November.

"When others were looking into Vladimir Putin's eyes, with an eye of understanding him and reaching accommodation with him, John, of course, said: I looked into his eyes and saw KGB", Kyl said. A former McCain staffer said McCain always supported increasing diversity within Republican politics and said McCain likely would have chosen a Hispanic woman to replace him.

"There is no one in Arizona with the stature of Senator Jon Kyl".

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Ducey signaled Kyl could be sworn into the Senate in the coming days and pushed back against allegations that the appointment was a politically-motivated move based exclusively on the supreme court nomination.

"Well, I don't really have a relationship with President Trump", Kyl said, adding: "I believe in Judge Kavanaugh".

Kyl says he did not want to commit for a longer period because when he left his Senate seat previously he had no intention of returning. John Shadegg and Matt Salmon, and former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods.

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