On Tuesday, Arizona governor Doug Ducey chose to return the 76-year-old Republican to the Senate, in a move that will strengthen Mitch McConnell's caucus in the short term - but just might weaken it in the long run. "He has great judgment, an even keel, he's a team player, a true friend and an inspiring example of what a senator can and should be", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Kyl shortly before the swearing-in. Kyl will serve until at least the end of the year; should he choose not to serve beyond the remainder of 2018, Ducey will have to name another replacement to serve out the rest of McCain's term.
However, on Tuesday Ducey said that he hasn't been able to get Kyl's commitment to serve beyond the congressional session that ends this year, though he hopes Kyl will reconsider. A former McCain staffer said McCain always supported increasing diversity within Republican politics and said McCain likely would have chosen a Hispanic woman to replace him.
"The best piece of advice I received was from another governor who said, 'just do the right thing".
He adds that Arizona "will be well-served by Jon's willingness to once again serve his country".
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McCain died late last month at age 81 following a yearlong battle with brain cancer. Jon Kyl has only committed to fill the Senate seat of the late John McCain through January of 2019. "John and I served the people of Arizona for almost two decades, and in that spirit, along with Senator [Jeff] Flake, I will do my best to ensure Arizonans are well represented in the Senate".
'I think McCain would be very happy with the pick. "He is a man without comparable peer", Ducey said.
McCain's widow, Cindy, tweeted: "Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John's". They hold 51 seats with 47 Democrats and two independents who align with Democrats - unchanged from when McCain held the seat.
President Donald Trump tweeted: "Jon Kyl will be an extraordinary senator representing an extraordinary state, Arizona".
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Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff", adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing". Woodward's account relies on deep background conversations with sources, meaning their identities are not disclosed.
At the time of his retirement, Kyl was the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate.
Kyl benefits from a long Washington experience, having served a total of 26 years in Congress, 18 of them alongside McCain.
By Tuesday evening, it was clear that Ducey's appointment of Kyl had succeeded in bringing about a rare moment of harmony, with Trump, McCain's family and Sen. ". There is no replacing John McCain, but the law requires me to do it".
Doug Cole, a veteran Republican consultant and former McCain aide, said Kyl was a safe pick. "There is much unfinished business, including confirmation of President Trump's nominees for judicial and executive branch positions, and I look forward to getting to work on behalf of my fellow Arizonans", said Senator Jon Kyl.
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Kyl will be entering a narrowly divided senate where Republicans could gain or lose seats in November.