Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will succeed late Sen. John McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Sept. 3, 2018.
William Flannigan, azcentral

Jon Kyl is headed back to the U.S. Senate after less than six years away.

Here are five things to know about Kyl’s second tour of duty on Capitol Hill.

1. He knows the job

In appointing Kyl, Gov. Doug Ducey returns him to a chamber he knows well.

Kyl was elected to three terms in the U.S. Senate, serving 18 years from 1995 to 2013. He ascended to the No. 2 spot in the chamber’s Republican leadership before retiring nearly six years ago.

Time magazine in 2006 dubbed Kyl “the Operator,” a nod to his mastery of the complicated senatorial process.

MORE: Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will be John McCain’s successor in the U.S. Senate

“He has succeeded by mastering a tactic that is crucial in a body in which any one member can bring the place to a halt as a ploy or out of pique: subterfuge,” Time wrote in declaring Kyl one of “America’s 10 Best Senators.”

Kyl, 76, had no intention on returning the Senate floor as a voting member. Since retiring, he has worked at the influential lobbying firm Covington & Burling. 


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2. He’s a short-timer

Kyl won’t commit to serving past this year. It is unclear why, but his age and family situation could be a factor. His wife, Caryll, joined Kyl during the announcement Tuesday in the governor’s ninth-floor executive space. The couple has two children and four grandchildren.

Kyl could ultimately choose to stay until 2020, when voters would elect a successor for a six-year term. A number of factors could play into Kyl’s decision, including the outcome of the November election, where Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Tucson, is running against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Phoenix. 

Ducey is also on the ballot, facing Democratic challenger David Garcia.

MORE: Who is Jon Kyl? McCain liked him, but his conservative record is drawing fire

3. The revolving door is spinning

Kyl has worked at Covington & Burling since 2013, first as a consultant and then as a lobbyist in 2015 once he was eligible to do so. His clients were giants in corporate America, including Walmart, Inc., Raytheon and a trade group representing companies in the pharmaceutical industry.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, as he began shepherding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the Senate confirmation process, Kyl wrapped up his lobbying work with Covington & Burling .


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Records show that on July 20, the firm filed paperwork that noted Kyl was no longer expected to lobby for Qualcomm and Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Inc., the firm’s most lucrative accounts involving Kyl, according to lobbying disclosures. 

The same day, the firm filed to say Kyl was also ending his lobbying for SAP America.

On Aug. 23, Covington & Burling filed reports saying Kyl wasn’t expected to lobby for JW Aluminum and Northrop Grumman, either.

If Kyl wants to resume his lobbying career, current Senate rules will require him to sit another two years after he leaves that chamber again.

MORE: Conservatives praise Jon Kyl, appointed to fill John McCain Senate seat

4. John McCain respected him

When Kyl was leaving the Senate for the private sector, McCain praised him for his “tireless work ethic,” attention to detail and efforts to be fair.

In that 2012 speech on the floor of the Senate, McCain said he has tried to emulate Kyl’s style and thoroughness. He also said Kyl worked harder than almost any of the Senate’s 100 senators.

“I’ve tried to learn from his example,” McCain said. “And I wish I could say I’ve emulated him. But regrettably as Arizonans and my Senate colleagues can attest, I still possess a short supply of some of Jon’s most conspicuous leadership qualities.

“His patience, for example, his meticulously preparation and thoroughness are, I’m sorry to say, not qualities that I’ll be remembered for. But they’ve been indispensable for the people of our state. It’s a fortunate thing for them and for me that states are represented by two senators and that Arizonans have had Jon Kyl here to compensate for my shortcomings.”

MORE: McCain family on Jon Kyl succeeding John McCain: ‘I can think of no one better’

5. Trump likes the Kyl appointment

President Donald Trump continuously battled with McCain and Arizona’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake.

But he appears satisfied with Ducey’s decision to name Kyl as McCain’s replacement.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “Jon Kyl will be an extraordinary Senator representing an extraordinary state, Arizona. I look forward to working with him!”

6. Fork ’em or bear down? 

Kyl got a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1964, and earned his law degree two years later from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

He also served as the editor-in-chief of the Arizona Law Review.



Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announces that former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will replace John McCain in the U.S. Senate.
Thomas Hawthorne, The Republic |


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