Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is resigning from the U.S. Senate on December 31, setting up the likely appointment of former Congresswoman Martha McSally (R) by Republican Governor Doug Ducey.
McSally narrowly lost to Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema in November, becoming the first Democrat to represent the state since 1995.
Insiders attribute McSally’s loss to her failure to effectively tell her story as the nation’s first female fighter pilot and performance in Congress, not establishing a strong presence in densely populated Maricopa County, and ignoring Sinema’s effective rebranding of herself as a supposed moderate.
A replacement to Kyl’s seat “will be announced in the near future,” according to Governor Ducey’s office.
Kyl wrote the governor two days ago, informing him of his decision.
“Thank you for appointing me to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy created by John McCain’s death,” Kyl wrote. “It has been an honor and a privilege to again serve the people of Arizona.
“When I accepted your appointment, I agreed to complete the work of the 115th Congress and then reevaluate continuing to serve. I have concluded that it would be best if I resign so that your new appointee can begin the new term with all other Senators in January 2019 and can serve a full two (potentially four) years. Therefore, I will resign from the U.S. Senate effective 11:59 p.m. EST December 31, 2018.”
Kyl, 76, served alongside McCain during his 18 years in the Senate. He retired in 2013 after becoming the chamber’s second-highest-ranking Republican.
Despite a short second stint on the Hill, Ducey offered Kyl only effusive praise:
“Senator Kyl didn’t need to return to the Senate. His legacy as one of Arizona’s most influential and important political figures was already without question. But he did return, and I remain deeply grateful for his willingness to step up and serve again when Arizona needed him. I wish him and his family all the best.”
Kyl remains tight-lipped about what he intends to do next. He previously served as a senior adviser to the high-powered Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling.