Jon Kyl To Leave Senate By December 31st

Jon Kyl was named to replace John McCain back in September, but as expected he's already announcing that he'll be leaving at the end of the year.

Just three months ago, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey named former Senator John Kyl, who had served as a Senator from 1995 to 2013 before being replaced by retiring Senator Jeff Flake, to fill the seat vacated by Senator John McCain after his death in late August. Under Arizona law, the person Ducey named would serve until the next General Election in 2020, but Kyl had made it clear that he was inclined to only serve as a temporary replacement and may choose to resign by the end of this year. Today, it was announced that Kyl would in fact resign effective December 31st, meaning that Ducey will now name a new replacement who would likely serve the remainder of the time between now and the next election:

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) plans to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, vacating the seat he has held since the death of Sen. John McCain and clearing the way for Arizona’s governor to name another Republican to the post.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said in a statement Friday that he had received a resignation letter from Kyl. Ducey is required under law to name another Republican to the seat.

After McCain’s death in August, Ducey appointed Kyl, a well-known former Republican senator, to fill his seat. Kyl committed to serving through at least the end of this year — making no promises about returning for the 2019 Congress.

Until recently, it appeared that Ducey was likely to appoint Rep. Martha McSally, who narrowly lost a race for Arizona’s other Senate seat in November. But her stock has fallen in the eyes of the governor, according to two people familiar with his thinking, as Ducey approaches one of the most significant decisions of his political career.

Still, McSally remains a finalist for the appointment as Senate Republicans leaders have vouched for her publicly and privately.

Ducey’s outgoing chief of staff, Kirk Adams, is also a possibility. Adams announced last month that he was leaving Ducey’s office, and Friday was slated to be his last day.

In his statement, Ducey said that “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,” Ducey said. “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.”

I mentioned the possibility of McSally replacing Kyl last month when it was clear that she had lost the fight for Flake’s seat to Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema, and while her name apparently remains near the top of the list of potential replacements, there are other names, mostly unknown outside of Arizona, that could end up being named to the seat. has profiles of these potential candidates, which includes Ducey’s Chief of Staff Kirk Adams, and State Treasurer Eileen Klein. Each of these potential candidates is much younger than Kyl and presumably would intend to run for the seat in the 2020 Special Election, after which they will have to run again in 2022, which marks the end of McCain’s current term. As noted, the only limitation on Ducey’s choice is the requirement under Arizona law that the person named as a replacement be a member of the same political party as the person being replaced. The interesting thing is that whoever is named will end up being the Senior Senator from Arizona even if they are sworn in just a day or two prior to Sinema’s swearing-in on January 3rd.

In any case, it was known for some time that Kyl would only be a placeholder, and the main reason for his selection was to help to preserve the Republican majority in advance of the Kavanaugh nomination vote and the election. Given that, it is likely that Ducey has had plenty of time to consider who he might select to replace Kyl just as he did when it was clear that McCain would not live much longer. Given that, I suspect we’ll get an announcement of a replacement at some point prior to the end of the year.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    Nothing to do with this post, but I’m taking the opportunity to request a semi-open “Annals of Stupidity” thread. The Hill just reported that Christie did the classic “dump him before he dumps me” move on Trump, and Politico has a good article on Pelosi’s fight to be leader that, believe it or not, has an interesting side note on the meeting with the three morons that paint them to be even more of a shambolic mess then was apparent.

  2. Teve says:

    Remember say, a year, or even 6 mos ago, when there were 6-7 enthusiastic trumpers here babbling away every day? And now it seems like 3 or 4, and their hearts aren’t really in it?

    I think trump is losing support, in that the same people still support him, but the intensity has declined. The bloom has come off the rose.

  3. Franklin says:

    @Teve: Heh, the rose, eh? I was thinking turd, but yeah the bloom has come off something.

  4. Teve says:

    Trumpers saw his shallow but successful debate performances where he was quick with bluster and nicknames and dominance and thought that’s the kickass President Camacho they’d get. “Little Marco!” “Lock her up!” Not 4 years of “Look, I don’t know Boris never met Boris.” “Maybe someone in the campaign knew Boris, but not me.” “I didn’t know his name was Boris, but maybe I saw him once or twice.” “Look, if you say I talked in person to Boris in Moscow, okay, that’s fake news, that’s your claim, not my claim…” “Well, talking to Boris is not illegal, okay, that’s a civil matter….” “Look Hillary probably talked to Boris about Russian cash 23 times on tape too, okay, why isn’t the FBI looking into that?” which is much more boring.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says: