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Former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl tapped to replace John McCain

Kyl, 76, was a U.S. senator from Arizona from 1995 to 2013, rising to the position of Senate Minority Whip before he retired.
by Adam Edelman /
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, is surrounded by members of the media, as he walks through the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 30, 2012.
Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, shown in 2012. He joined the Senate in 1995 and rose to Senate Minority Whip before retiring in 2013. Pete Marovich / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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Former Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona will replace John McCain in the Senate, Gov. Doug Ducey, a fellow Republican, announced Tuesday.

"I am deeply grateful to Senator Kyl for agreeing to succeed his friend and colleague of so many years," Ducey said on Twitter.

The late senator's widow, Cindy McCain, first revealed the appointment.

"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 tweeted.

McCain, who was in his sixth term in the Senate, died last month at the age of 81 from brain cancer.

Kyl, 76, was a U.S. senator from Arizona from 1995 to 2013, rising to the position of Senate Minority Whip before he retired.

Kyl, however, has been back on Capitol Hill in recents months acting as the "sherpa" for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, helping to guide him through the confirmation process.

Under Arizona law, the state's governor is charged with appointing a replacement to an open Senate seat. The replacement must belong to the same political party as the person being replaced.

It is unclear how long Kyl will serve; a special election will be called in 2020 to fulfill the remainder of McCain's final term, through 2022. McCain was last re-elected in 2016.

Ducey's selection of Kyl quickly garnered praise from Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called him "an excellent choice."

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who replaced the retiring Kyl in 2013, said, "There is no one more qualified."

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