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Jon Kyl to resign from Senate on Dec. 31, setting up 2nd Ducey appointment

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Jon Kyl will resign from the U.S. Senate on Dec. 31, keeping his word that he would leave the post by the end of the year.

Kyl turned his resignation letter to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday. He was appointed to the seat in September after John McCain died following a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Ducey said he would pick a replacement “in the near future.”

In the letter, Kyl said it would be “best if I resign so that your new appointee can begin the new term with all other senators…and can serve a full two (potentially four) years.”

Ducey said in a statement that Kyl “served with the same integrity and statesmanship that marked his 26 years in Congress.

“I remain deeply grateful for his willingness to step up and serve again when Arizona needed him. I wish him and his family all the best,” he said.

It was expected that Kyl, 76, would resign by the end of the year.

Since he was appointed, Kyl said he did not commit to serving in the Senate seat after the end of the year and would not seek the seat in 2020 or beyond.

Republican U.S. Rep. David Schweikert told KTAR News 92.3 FM that Kyl did not come back to the Senate seat because of ambition but for the state of Arizona.

“To have someone who steps back in with that much seniority and that much understanding of the process…it was actually really good for Arizona to have a steady hand there,” he said.

Kyl’s resignation leaves the door open for Ducey to appoint another Republican — as is required by law — to the Senate seat.

While Ducey has not announced a replacement, his former chief-of-staff Kirk Adams and outgoing U.S. Rep. Martha McSally have been among the rumored names to take over the seat.

CNN reported last month that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was pushing Ducey to replace Kyl with McSally, who lost an election to U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally was elected to the House in 2015. She will be succeeded in Arizona’s second congressional district by Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick.

Adams, who resigned from his post on Friday, also has a history of serving in the state legislature. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006 and served as House Speaker. He resigned in 2011 to run for U.S. House of Representatives but was defeated in the Republican primary by former Rep. Matt Salmon.

Whoever is chosen by Ducey to fill the seat can run in a 2020 special election to fill the remainder of McCain’s seat through 2022. Then the seat will be up again for a full six-year term.

Kyl had served in the Senate from 1994 to 2013. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.

Before he was elected to the House and after he left the Senate the first time, Kyl served as a lobbyist. He had also served as the sherpa for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

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