Jon Kyl Announces Plans to Resign From Senate

Sets up Arizona governor to make a second appointment to fill McCain's seat

US Sens. John McCain (L) and Jon Kyl in 2012 / Getty Images
December 14, 2018

Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) on Thursday hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey (R., Ariz.) announcing his intention to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31.

Kyl filled the late John McCain's Senate seat in September after he passed away from brain cancer in late August. When Kyl took over the seat, it was understood that he would serve until at least the end of this year or through 2020 when the seat is up for reelection. However, in his letter, dated Dec. 12, he said it was best for a new appointment because the "appointee can begin the new term with all other Senators in January 2019," according to the Arizona Republic.

"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.

Kyl first retired in 2013 as the second-highest-ranking Republican senator after serving in the Senate with McCain for 18 years.

"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."

Ducey, who has been quiet about who he is considering to replace Kyl, praised him for his second stint on Capitol Hill, saying he served with "integrity and statesmanship."

"Senator Kyl didn’t need to return to the Senate," Ducey said in a statement. "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."

Rep. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), who narrowly lost a 2018 Senate race to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), is being floated as a possible appointee, the Republic reports.

There is intense interest from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, for Ducey to appoint outgoing Rep. Martha McSally, the Republican who lost to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for Arizona's other U.S. Senate seat. Sinema will be sworn into office Jan. 3.

Republican donors spent millions of dollars McSally's election effort and likely want to see that investment pay dividends. Ducey and McSally met recently, but it is unclear if there was discussion about a Senate appointment.

Other names have been mentioned as well, including Ducey's former chief-of-staff, Kirk Adams, and state Treasurer Eileen Klein.