In a news conference at the Arizona Capitol, the Republican governor said he expected Kyl, 76, to “hit the ground running” when he arrives in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening.
“It’s not the time for newcomers,” Ducey said. “Now is not the time for on-the-job training.”
Kyl could be sworn in as early as Tuesday night, though Wednesday is more likely, according to a governor’s aide. He has agreed to serve at least through the end of the year.
“I’m accepting this appointment to fill the seat vacated by the passing of my dear friend because of my sense of duty to the state I love, and the institution of the Senate which I served for 18 years, and because the governor asked for my help,” Kyl said at the news conference. “…There is much unfinished business on the Senate’s calendar.”
Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will succeed late Sen. John McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Sept. 3, 2018. William Flannigan, azcentral
Kyl served alongside McCain during his 18 years in the U.S. Senate. He retired in 2013 after rising to become the second-highest-ranking Republican.
If Kyl opts to step down after the end of the session, the governor would be required to appoint another replacement.
Ducey sought someone who could quickly step into the seat to wrap up McCain’s unfinished business, he said. Kyl brings a depth of knowledge on issues key to Arizona, from water and natural resources to Native American relations, and “I want someone who can enter and lead on those conversations,” the governor said.
Kyl is respected among seasoned Republicans and is leading President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through the confirmation process. Last year, Kyl was the “sherpa” for Jeff Sessions’ contentious nomination to become attorney general.
In a tweet, McCain’s widow, Cindy, expressed support for the appointment. “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,” she wrote.
“There is no one in Arizona more prepared to represent our state in the U.S. Senate than Jon Kyl,” Ducey said in a statement earlier Tuesday. “He understands how the Senate functions and will make an immediate and positive impact benefiting all Arizonans. I am deeply grateful to Senator Kyl for agreeing to succeed his friend and college of so many years.
“Every single day that Jon Kyl represents Arizona in the United States Senate is a day when our state is being well-served.”
Kyl represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate from 1995 through Jan. 3, 2013. There, he served as minority whip, the second-highest position in the Republican conference. Before ascending to the Senate, he served in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.
The decision had weighed on Ducey’s mind since last year, when McCain received his brain-cancer diagnosis. The governor refused to publicly discuss any potential appointment and condemned those lobbying for McCain’s seat while the late senator was still serving.
That changed on Aug. 25 in the hours following McCain’s death. In a conversation with Kyl, the governor told him he wanted to name him as McCain’s successor and that Kyl “was the best person to take this seat,” the aide said.
Kyl got back to Ducey the next day after consulting with his wife. He told the governor he would be willing to serve until at least the end of the year.
“He felt a sense of service, largely because it was John McCain’s seat and he had served with him for so long,” the aide said.
Ducey will submit a certificate of appointment to the U.S. Senate secretary Tuesday. An aide is flying the paperwork to Washington, D.C., and will hand-deliver it to the secretary’s office.
Kyl will return to a chamber where Republicans narrowly hold control and where votes can be unpredictable.
On Tuesday, the chamber began deliberating the Kavanaugh nomination. A Senate committee hopes to vote later this month to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate to get him on the bench before the midterm elections.
Democrats are protesting Trump’s selection and the process Republicans are using to vet Kavanaugh.
Kyl and Ducey met when Ducey first considered running for office, and the governor has said he views Kyl as a model public servant.
After leaving the Senate, Kyl joined the high-powered Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling. As senior adviser, he helps clients on issues including tax, health care, defense, national security and intellectual property.
In 2006, Time magazine named Kyl one of America’s 10 best senators.
Source: AZ Central