Arizona governor taps former senator to fill John McCain's vacancy

Former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., answers a question after Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., announced the appointment of Kyl to fill Sen. John McCain's seat in the U.S. Senate at a news conference at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Phoenix.
Former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., answers a question after Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., announced the appointment of Kyl to fill Sen. John McCain's seat in the U.S. Senate at a news conference at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Phoenix.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said last week that he'd appoint John McCain's successor after the late senator's funeral. Today, he followed through and named his choice.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that Jon Kyl, a former senator, will replace Sen. John McCain in the U.S. Senate. [...]Former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl served alongside McCain in the U.S. Senate for nearly two decades. He represented the state in D.C. from 1995 through January 3, 2013, at one time serving Senate Minority Whip.

Kyl, who's 76, quickly made clear that he sees his role as a placeholder, and only committed to serve through the end of the year. When McCain's current term ends in 2020, the appointed senator will not be on the ballot.

In terms of what to expect from McCain's successor, Republicans wanted a reliable partisan, who'll stick to GOP orthodoxy, and Kyl will fill that role perfectly. He's a predictable, doctrinaire Republican who can be expected to vote with his party in nearly every instance.

No one, in other words, has described Kyl as a "maverick."

For those who've watched Capitol Hill closely in recent years, Kyl's work is probably familiar. For example, it was Kyl who argued in 2011 that "well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does" is provide abortion services. When confronted with evidence that he was brazenly lying, Kyl's defense was that his argument "was not intended to be a factual statement."

Two years earlier, during a committee debate on the Affordable Care Act, Kyl complained bitterly about proposed benefits that would be included in a standard benefit package. To drive home his point, the Arizona Republican said, "I don't need maternity care."

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) replied, "I think your mom probably did."

But of particular interest is what Kyl has been doing since leaving Capitol Hill in 2012.

As it turns out, Kyl has been a corporate lobbyist in recent years for a major D.C. firm, Covington & Burling. Indeed, the revolving-door effect is a sight to behold: Jon Kyl's professional trajectory now includes a career in Congress, followed by a lobbying stint, followed by a return to Congress, after which he may very well go back to lobbying again.

It's not exactly material for a "drain the swamp" message.

Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, though she didn't when Kyl made the aforementioned comments in 2011.