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Arizona Gov. Ducey hopes Jon Kyl changes mind about short Senate stay

(KTAR Photo/Matt Bertram)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants U.S. Senate appointee Jon Kyl to remain in office beyond January.

“Hopefully he stays for two years,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday afternoon, hours after he named Kyl to fill the late John McCain’s seat.

Ducey said that while he didn’t discuss a successor with McCain, who died of brain cancer Aug. 25, he “channeled” the six-term senator in making the decision.

“The thinking was, ‘What would John McCain do?’” Ducey said.

Ducey said Kyl was the first person he asked, although he acknowledged that he’d considered McCain’s widow, Cindy.

“There was really only one living Arizonan that could fill this spot,” Ducey said. “There was no one with the stature of a Jon Kyl inside our state.

“The challenge for me as governor – ‘Was Jon Kyl going to say yes?’”

Kyl, who served alongside McCain in the Senate for three terms from 1995 to 2013, accepted the offer but only committed to holding the office through the current session.

“I’d like him to serve longer, and he knows that I’d like him to serve longer,” Ducey said.

Ducey said Kyl has returned to Washington, where he’s been guiding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the confirmation process, and was expected to be sworn back into office Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

“What we heard was, in the airport people were giving him fist bumps and cheers and saying thank you,” Ducey said. “The airport’s a pretty bipartisan place, I can tell you. … I think that people are embracing the selection, and I think he’ll serve our state and our nation well.”

If Ducey has his way, Kyl will serve until 2020, when Arizona voters will select somebody to fill out the remainder of McCain’s term, which goes through 2022.

But if Kyl sticks to his plan to leave after the session, the governor will select another Republican to hold the seat until 2020.

However, there’s no guarantee the governor making that pick will be Ducey, who will go up against Democratic challenger David Garcia in the November general election.

Ducey said the political ramification of Kyl only committing to the office for four months wasn’t part of his decision.

“If picking the best possible person to fill the seat is going to be considered good politics, then I’ll take it,” he said.

Mac & Gaydos

KTAR News 92.3