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Former Sen. Jon Kyl steps back into spotlight with federal appointment

In this Dec. 30, 2012, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., leave the chamber as the Senate rushes to negotiate a legislative path to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that could kick in Jan. 1., at the Capitol in Washington. Sen. John McCain's widow on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, said Kyl will fill her late husband's seat. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl stepped away from the Senate a handful of years ago, but willingly returned Tuesday, when he was appointed replacement for the late U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Gov. Doug Ducey made the announcement in the morning.

“I will do my best to ensure Arizonans are well represented in the Senate. There is much-unfinished business, including confirmation of President Trump’s nominees for judicial and executive branch positions, and I look forward to getting to work on behalf of my fellow Arizonans,” Kyl said in a statement.

Kyl, a Republican who retired from the Senate in 2013, said at the time, “I never anticipated I would be in public service for 26 years.”

McCain’s replacement was required by law to be from the same party.

Kyl committed to the seat only through January and said he would not run for the seat in 2020, when voters will decide who fills the remainder of McCain’s seat through 2022.

Then the seat will be up again for a full six-year term.

He spent three terms in the Senate, working with McCain, and was minority whip, the first Arizona politician to earn that position.

Before the Senate, Kyl spent a dozen years in the U.S. House of Representatives for Arizona.

The Republican lawyer-turned-lobbyist was tapped in July to help guide Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the confirmation process in a role informally called sherpa.

Now, he will be casting a vote in the confirmation hearings that began earlier in the day.

“He knows everybody, everybody knows him,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said after Kyl was named sherpa.

The 76-year-old was on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the confirmation proceedings of four Supreme Court justices – John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Other leadership posts he held included Policy Committee chair. In 2010, Time magazine chose Kyl as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. “Jon Kyl is a great persuader,” then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in the magazine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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