The death of John McCain rendered his Senate seat vacant, because his failure to resign earlier this year took the choice out of the hands of Arizona voters and placed it directly in the hands of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican. And after an unhealthy dose of speculation about who might be appointed to fill the seat until a special election in 2020, Ducey landed on a familiar, old, droop-ass face: Jon Kyl, a former three-term Republican senator from the state. McCain’s widow ceremonially announced the news on Twitter Tuesday afternoon:
According to the Arizona Republic, Kyl has agreed to serve as senator at least until the end of the year. If Kyl does step down ahead of the new Congress, Ducey would be required to appoint another replacement to serve until the election in 2020.
The news comes during the first day of confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Kyl, who retired in 2012 and was later succeeded by Jeff Flake—who is retiring this year—was tapped earlier this summer to help the Trump administration guide Kavanaugh’s confirmation through the Senate. (Wonder which way he’s going to vote on that!)
We already have a pretty good indication of what kind of lawmaker Kyl will be from his previous time in the Senate. During debates over what eventually became the Affordable Care Act, Kyl memorably said that, as a man, he didn’t “need maternity care.” And well before the Trump administration courted well-known figures of the European far-right, Kyl invited Dutch white nationalist politician Geert Wilders to screen his Islamophobic documentary Fitna at the U.S. Capitol.
Then in 2011, a year before leaving office, Kyl set his sights on wildly maligning Planned Parenthood, publicly claiming that abortions constitute “well over 90 percent” of the organization’s services. Later, his staff explained this heinous lie away by saying it was “not intended to be a factual statement.” Kyl ultimately had the comment stricken from the congressional record.
After leaving the Senate, Kyl took a spin through Washington’s revolving door, lobbying for clients like big pharma firms and defense contractors. As the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday:
Kyl, who has only committed to serve through this Congress—though he can stay on till the 2020 elections—retired in 2013. Almost immediately after, he joined the powerhouse Washington law and lobbying firm Covington & Burling where he has represented companies and trade associations in the defense, financial services, technology, and pharmaceutical industries.
Drug industry trade group PhRMA and a number of its member companies, defense contractors Northrup Grumman and Raytheon, and microchip manufacturer Qualcomm, have been among Kyl’s most prominent clients.
Kyl’s work for Covington clients has included advocacy on specific legislative proposals on which he could end up voting as a sitting Senator. For PhRMA, he has lobbied on a host of bills concerning the trade and regulation of prescription drugs. As Congress considers its next funding bill, Kyl will also likely be in a position to vote on appropriations for military programs such as the B-21 bomber, on which he’s lobbied for Northrop Grumman.
And in the last year, Kyl has featured more prominently in public. In addition to the help he’s given Kavanaugh and the Trump administration, Kyl was picked to lead a group examining whether or not Facebook is biased against conservatives. (Spoiler alert: It is not.)
In other words, Kyl is the perfect replacement for John McCain: a grumpy old asshole who’s for years prodded his party in a still-shittier direction. And even if his tenure doesn’t last all that long, he’ll still have a chance to make his mark by voting to put Kavanaugh on the court.