Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl Announces He's Stepping Down From U.S. Senate — Gov. Ducey To Make Second Appointment

Published: Friday, December 14, 2018 - 2:58pm
Updated: Friday, December 14, 2018 - 3:16pm
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Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and Gov. Doug Ducey at the press conference announcing his appointment on Sept. 4, 2018.

MARK BRODIE: We start this hour though with the news that Jon Kyl says he'll leave the U.S. Senate at the end of the month. In September, Gov. Ducey appointed Kyl to return to the Senate — taking the late Sen. John McCain's seat. Six years ago Kyl retired from the chamber leaving as Senate minority whip. Kyl's announcement now leaves another hole for Gov. Ducey to fill until 2020. For more on this now we're joined by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, with the Arizona Republic. Yvonne, good morning.

YVONNE WINGETT SANCHEZ: Good morning.

BRODIE: So, this isn't too much of a surprise right? Kyl had only really said that he would for sure serve until the end of this Congress.

WINGETT SANCHEZ: Right. I think it also just became very clear in recent week in both his tone, and kind of body language, and talking about his future that his focus was really more on his family than flying back and forth to Capitol Hill. I don't think this comes as a surprise to anyone.

BRODIE: How do we look at his second stint in D.C.? It was just a couple of months. But there were some pretty big things that happened while he was there.

WINGETT SANCHEZ: Sure. He returned just as the battle to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court was heating up. I think fair to say that he played a key role in any kind of shepherding him through that process. He also, during his time, introduced legislation that proposed cutting the estate tax rate in half. And, he kind of used his returns to advocate for increased spending and budget stability for the Pentagon. He was a big advocate of that as well.

LAUREN GILGER: Yvonne, I want to ask you about the — obviously you can't speculate about who's coming next, but this will be another appointment to the Senate for Gov. Ducey. I guess is there ... any precedent to this has this happened in the past that the governor has been able to sort of put someone in temporarily and then appoint someone else?

WINGETT SANCHEZ: Well, certainly not in Arizona. It is a very unusual circumstance I guess for the governor. It certainly put him in the power seat yet again. This is a very high-profile appointment and one that is being watched by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, other donors who are very influential and may want someone like Martha McSally in the seat. So how he will respond to this new vacancy will be interesting. I guess my biggest question is — who is his constituency? Is it insiders back in D.C. , who are kind of sizing up the Senate and what they need to accomplish over the next two years before 2020? Or, is it going to be the people of Arizona, who made pretty clear who they wanted to be their next senator in 2018? And you know on that list was not Martha McSally.

GILGER: Yeah. Yvonne one other question about Sen. Kyl's future, is there any sense of what he will do next, if he will return to the lobbying firm that he was working for before?

WINGETT SANCHEZ: We don't have an answer on that yet but I would expect to see a return.

BRODIE: Yvonne you mention, that you know, the question is you know who is the governor's constituency in terms of picking somebody else. Is there a sense of what he is looking for in terms of does he want somebody who is going to then run in 2020 to try to fill out the rest of the term, or somebody who's just going to be there for a couple of years as sort of a placeholder type senator?

WINGETT SANCHEZ: That's one of the questions that we've been trying to get answered but we've not been able to. I think people who might be familiar with the people who are involved in some of these private sessions agree that you would probably want to appoint somebody who would try to hold the seat in 2020 and would have the advantage of incumbency.

BRODIE: All right. That's Yvonne Wingett Sanchez with the Arizona Republic talking to us about the announcement this morning that U.S. Senator Jon Kyl will be stepping down at the end of the month. Yvonne, thanks for your time this morning, we appreciate it.

WINGETT SANCHEZ: Sure.

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