“There is no one in Arizona more prepared to represent our state in the U.S. Senate than Jon Kyl,” Ducey said in a statement. “He understands how the Senate functions, and will make an immediate and positive impact benefiting all Arizonans.”
Kyl, 76, previously served 18 years in the U.S. Senate, becoming the second-highest-ranked GOP senator before retiring in 2013. According to the Arizona Republic, he has agreed to serve at least through the end of this year. If Kyl chooses to step down at that point, Ducey will have to name another successor.
Kyl said he would not run for the seat in 2020.
Kyl joined top K Street firm Covington & Burling shortly after his retirement in 2013, and was recently retained by Facebook to help the social media network combat partisan bias in its news distribution. Ducey contacted Kyl in the hours after McCain’s death on Aug. 25 to see if he’d return to Capitol Hill.
The governor said in his statement he was “deeply grateful” to Kyl for agreeing to succeed his friend and former colleague McCain.
“Every single day that Jon Kyl represents Arizona in the United States Senate is a day when our state is being well-served,” the statement read.
President Donald Trump, who was frequently critical of McCain, praised his replacement:
Cindy McCain, wife of the late senator, tweeted about Kyl on Tuesday, calling him “a dear friend”:
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also praised the choice.
This story has been updated.
Eliot Nelson contributed to this report.