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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 05, 2018 1:00 am

Former Arizona senator to fill McCain seat

Associated Press

PHOENIX – A former U.S. senator from Arizona who is now a lobbyist helping guide the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was named Tuesday to temporarily fill the Senate seat left open by the death of John McCain.

Republican Jon Kyl cited his sense of duty in accepting the appointment but said he's only committing to serve until the end of the congressional session next Jan. 3.

Despite the short window, Kyl will likely be able to vote for Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court nominee.

Kyl, 76, retired from the Senate after three terms in 2012 and became a lobbyist. He said he had wanted to spend more time with his family in Arizona but will reluctantly return to Washington to help finish the nation's business, including confirming judicial nominees.

“I'm putting my country first, just as this seat's previous occupant did every single day for more than 30 years,” Kyl said of McCain.

Kyl, an attorney, was appointed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a fellow Republican who called him the best person for the job “regardless of politics” and said he hopes Kyl stays in the post longer.

Kyl was a reliable Republican vote during his time in the Senate in contrast to McCain's occasional defiance of party leaders.

Voters will decide who they want in the seat in 2020, when they elect someone to serve the rest of McCain's term. The seat will come up again for a six-year term in 2022.

If Kyl does leave the Senate in January, Arizona's governor can appoint another person for the remaining year.