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Our Views: Jon Kyl a good, safe pick for McCain’s Senate seat

September 6, 2018

Gov. Doug Ducey’s appointment of former Sen. Jon Kyl to fill the term of the late Sen. John McCain was hardly a bombshell.

It wasn’t a dud, either.

Kyl, who retired from the Senate in 2013, gets a return gig in a job he no longer wanted. At age 76, Kyl said he won’t seek election to the post. He’s in a caretaker position, named as a safe choice, a friend of the McCain family and a Senate veteran who knows the ropes.

In going this route, Ducey took a path that throws the seat open again by 2020. He had the chance to appoint someone who could springboard an incumbency into the next election. That choice would’ve included pleasing either McCain fans or President Trump’s fans, but not both.

Kyl earned the respect of his Senate peers while he was in office, rising to the position of minority whip, the second-highest job for the minority party. His knowledge of Washington politics will be an asset for Arizona, assuring he will hit the ground running.

In truth, he never really stopped. He’s in Washington already, tasked with the duty of shepherding the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the Senate. Kavanaugh’s hearings began Tuesday.

Some, in fact, are speculating that Kyl may serve an even shorter term than expected: He could, in theory, vote on the Supreme Court nominee then resign. If he did so after the general election, it could hedge a bet on the Senate race between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, possibly giving the seat to McSally should she lose.

Of course, even considering that path suggests a lot more shrewd politicking than one would see in a safe and straightforward appointment of Kyl.

Kyl will likely serve Arizona well in the Senate. At the very least, he should help with the Kavanaugh vote and offer a strong depth of knowledge on other urgent issues.

As a slightly younger senior citizen than John McCain, Kyl isn’t the face of the future. He’s capable, experienced and carries strong legislative credentials. That’s what Arizona needs in a caretaker.

— Today’s News-Herald

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