US Politics

Jon Kyl Fills McCain’s Seat, Securing GOP Vote on Kavanaugh

Former AZ Sen. Jon Kyl has been named by Gov. Ducey to replace the recently-deceased Sen. John McCain until 2020. Will the senator-turned-lobbyist-turned-politician-again honor his late colleague’s bipartisan legacy by voting in a similar fashion or will he give former clients an easier path in Congress? Tanner Kenney examines the potential legislative and legal impacts of America’s newest Senator following the death of an American war hero and political icon.


Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Tuesday named Jon Kyl to assume the late Sen. John McCain’s seat. The appointment is a somewhat surprising decision as it was presumed Ducey would choose a more moderate individual following his narrow primary victory prior to this year’s midterm elections. For his part in the process, Kyl – who spent 18 years in the Senate from 1995 to 2013 – has stated that he has no intention of running for reelection in 2020 and will most likely return to the private sector where he has been serving as of-counsel to Covington & Burling LLP, a large lobbying firm.

Now, following the death of political icon John McCain coupled with the retirement of Sen. Jeff Flake, Senator Kyl will be able to provide additional support for President Donald Trump and his Administration’s agenda in a narrowly Republican-held Senate. Kyl, whose career has been a shuffle between the private sector and the Senate, has been heralded as Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s shepherd through the Senate confirmation hearings.

In appointing Kyl, Ducey has also provided President Donald Trump with a strong supporter of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, for whom fiery confirmation hearings ensued following the release of over 40,000 documents. Democrats have long argued that Kavanaugh’s nomination is about much more than just conservative politics, claiming his appointment would be aimed primarily at protecting President Trump from Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and his team’s investigation into interference in the 2016 elections.

At worst, critics argue, Kavanaugh’s rise to the SCOTUS bench would lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. These fears were fanned by Kavanaugh through his controversial legal opinions, numerous journal articles and highly criticized speeches, throughout his judicial career. This is to say nothing of his outright refusal to answer questions about potential opinions, should he be confirmed, primarily as they regard to the protection of the Special Counsel.

And today, these previously-circumstantial occurrences have coalesced into a clearer picture of a burn-all-bridges-in-a-whirlwind legal strategy coupled with traditional American politics – former United States Attorney and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani now leads Trump’s legal team as soon-to-exit White House Counsel Don McGahn has been working alongside Sen. Kyl in leading Judge Kavanaugh through his confirmation hearings, including meetings with supportive Senators and those willing to hear his legal justifications.

In assisting Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Kyl has signaled his intent to publicly decry and discourage Trump from engaging in mudslinging and unhelpful partisan rhetoric whilst supporting the policies created and positions taken by the Trump Administration. As such, Kyl poses a great threat to both supporters of the Special Counsel and its investigation as well as the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee where he served for the entirety of his first tenure in the chamber due to his ability to influence the committee’s own investigation into interference in the 2016 elections. More importantly, Senator Kyl has had a long standing history of leaning right on a myriad of issues unlike his former GOP counterpart, the late Senator John McCain, who was considered more of a wild card.

Unlike the Special Counsel’s investigation, the conflicts of interest that may exist between Sen. Kyl and Judge Kavanaugh appear to be great and run deep. However, as of this writing, there have been neither any legal objections made nor lawsuits brought to prevent the ascension of either Kyl or Kavanaugh.

Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.

Please note that opinions expressed in this article are solely those of our contributors, not of Political Insights, which takes no institutional positions.

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