The media recently concluded their week-plus of laudatory coverage of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s death, memorials and funeral services, portraying him as perhaps the best and most righteous man who has ever lived. For those who remember how they savagely brutalized him 10 years ago when he unsuccessfully ran for president against Barack Obama, it’s been a bit much.
But interest in McCain quickly faded once the late senator was buried, so abruptly in fact that few in the media even reported, much less dwelt upon, the appointment of former Arizona Sen. John Kyl as McCain’s replacement in the Senate.
Kyl was sworn in as a U.S. senator by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday while flanked by his state’s other senator, the outgoing Jeff Flake, who had been elected in 2012 to replace the retiring Kyl.
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 5, 2018
Appointed, but for how long
Kyl was named as McCain’s temporary replacement on Tuesday by Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, ostensibly to hold the seat until 2020, at which point Arizona’s voters will decide who will serve out the remaining two years of McCain’s term, which ends in 2022.
However, it is unclear if Kyl will serve as McCain’s replacement until after the 2020 election.
So far, he has only committed to serving out the remainder of the current Congressional session, which concludes on January 3, 2019.
Should Kyl return to retirement after only a few months in office, Gov. Ducey would be able to appoint another person to fill out the remainder of the term until voters have their say in 2020.
Astute observers have noted that, should Republican Arizona Rep. Martha McSally fail to win the race for Flake’s empty Senate seat in November and Kyl were to step aside again in January, she could be appointed by Ducey to McCain’s old seat, ensuring she will most likely end up representing Arizona in the Senate one way or another.
Reliable conservative Republican
The 76-year-old Kyl served three terms in the Senate before retiring in 2012. Kyl is well-regarded as a reliable conservative vote, although more on the establishment side than the populist side of the political right.
His rejoining the Senate on behalf of McCain will grant the Republicans their 51-vote majority again, which could be crucial as a vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh could be held within weeks.
Kyl has already been working alongside the White House with Kavanaugh, acting as a sort of “sherpa” to help guide him through the halls of the Senate in preparation for his confirmation hearings.
It will be interesting to see how long Kyl decides to serve in his return to the Senate — either through January 2019 or January 2021 — and if he will continue to be as reliable of a vote for the GOP with regard to President Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda as opposed to the old establishment agenda.