PHOENIX, Ariz. (Reuters) – Former U.S. Republican Senator Jon Kyl is Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s pick to fill the U.S. Senate seat from Arizona vacated by John McCain, who died last month, the governor said on Tuesday.
Kyl served with McCain in the Senate and rose to the position of Republican whip, the second-highest leadership post in his party’s Senate leadership before retiring in 2013.
“There is no one in Arizona more prepared to represent our state in the U.S. Senate than Jon Kyl,” Ducey said in a statement. “He understands how the Senate functions and will make an immediate and positive impact benefiting all Arizonans.”
McCain’s wife Cindy McCain offered her congratulations to Kyl on Twitter.
“Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s. It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona,” she wrote.
President Donald Trump had long feuded with McCain and did not attend the senator’s memorials in Arizona and Washington over the past week, at McCain’s request.
McCain’s fellow Arizonan, retiring U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who has been one of the loudest Republican critics of President Donald Trump, praised the pick on Twitter.
“What an excellent choice!” Flake wrote. “There is no one more qualified and Arizona is well served. Kudos to Senator Kyl for his willingness to serve once again.”
Kyl served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was first elected to the Senate in 1994.
He retired at the end of his third term in January 2013. He voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Kyl, 76, now works as a lobbyist at the law firm Covington & Burling and is helping to shepherd U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the confirmation process.
(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix, writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Jonathan Oatis)