PHOENIX (CN) – Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, once the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, will return to Capitol Hill to replace former Senator John McCain.
McCain served six terms in the Senate. He died from brain cancer last month at the age of 81.
The announcement on McCain’s replacement was made Tuesday morning by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and is expected to please fans of both McCain and President Donald Trump.
“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 benefitting all Arizonans. I am deeply grateful to Sen. Kyl for agreeing to succeed his friend and colleague of so many years.”
Kyl served 18 years in the U.S. Senate, where he was known as a stalwart Republican. He rose to the position of Senate Minority Whip before retiring in 2013.
Since then, he has served as a lobbyist for Covington & Burling and has helped guide Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, through the Senate.
Kyl, 76, has only committed to remain in the position until the start of next year, but has indicated he may serve until 2020 when a special election will be held to fill McCain’s unexpired term. He will not run for election at that time.
In a memorial service honoring McCain last week, Kyl expressed pride in McCain’s representation of Arizona in the U.S. Senate.
“Some have disagreed with some of Senator McCain’s votes on policy positions, but that should not diminish our gratitude for his service,” Kyl said.
McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, lauded the decision Tuesday on Twitter.
“Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s,” she wrote. “It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona.”
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona also applauded the decision.
“Gov. Ducey has selected Sen. Jon Kyl as Sen. McCain’s replacement. What an excellent choice!” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no one more qualified and Arizona is well served. Kudos to Sen. Kyl for his willingness to serve once again.”
The appointment comes at a crucial time, with the Senate narrowly held by Republicans and currently deliberating Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Kyl will likely be sworn in Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.