Jon Kyl

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Jon Kyl
Official portrait, 2018
United States Senator
from Arizona
In office
September 4, 2018 – December 31, 2018
Appointed byDoug Ducey
Preceded byJohn McCain
Succeeded byMartha McSally
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byDennis DeConcini
Succeeded byJeff Flake
Senate Minority Whip
In office
December 19, 2007 – January 3, 2013
LeaderMitch McConnell
Preceded byTrent Lott
Succeeded byJohn Cornyn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byEldon Rudd
Succeeded byJohn Shadegg
Personal details
Jon Llewellyn Kyl

(1942-04-25) April 25, 1942 (age 81)
Oakland, Nebraska, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Caryll Collins
(m. 1964)
Parent(s)John Henry Kyl
Arlene Griffith
EducationUniversity of Arizona (BA, LLB)

Jon Llewellyn Kyl (/ˈkl/ KYLE; born April 25, 1942)[1] is an American politician and lobbyist who served as a United States Senator for Arizona from 1995 to 2013. Following the death of John McCain in 2018, Kyl briefly returned to the Senate, leaving office after the appointment of Martha McSally in 2019. A Republican, he held both of Arizona's Senate seats at different times, serving alongside McCain during his first stint.[2] Kyl was Senate Minority Whip from 2007 until 2013. He first joined the lobbying firm Covington & Burling after retiring in 2013, then rejoined in 2019.[3]

The son of U.S. Representative John Henry Kyl and Arlene (née Griffith) Kyl, Kyl was born and raised in Nebraska and lived for some time in Iowa. He received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Arizona. He worked in Phoenix, Arizona as an attorney and lobbyist before winning election to the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 1987 to 1995. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and continued to be re-elected by comfortable margins until his retirement in January 2013. In 2006, he was recognized by Time magazine as one of America's Ten Best Senators.[4] Kyl was ranked by National Journal in 2007 as the fourth-most conservative U.S. Senator.[5] He has been a fixture of Republican policy leadership posts, chairing the Republican Policy Committee (2003–2006) and the Republican Conference (2006–2007) before becoming Senate Minority Whip until his retirement in 2013. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010 for his persuasive role in the Senate.[6]

After leaving the Senate in 2013, Kyl worked as an attorney and lobbyist[7] and then worked to shepherd the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.[8]

In September 2018, Kyl was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to serve in the Class 3 Senate seat left vacant by the death of John McCain.[9][8] Kyl is the first person to return to the Senate via appointment since New Hampshire Republican Norris Cotton in 1975.[10] Kyl resigned from the Senate effective December 31, 2018, and was succeeded by Martha McSally.[11]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Kyl was born in Oakland, Nebraska, the son of Arlene (née Griffith) and John Henry Kyl, a teacher at Nebraska State Teachers College. His father served as a Congressman from Iowa after moving his family to Bloomfield, Iowa. After graduating from high school in 1960, Kyl attended the University of Arizona, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1964, graduating with honors. Kyl is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, as is Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona. He then earned a law degree in 1966 at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law, and served as editor-in-chief of the Arizona Law Review. Before entering politics, he was a lawyer and lobbyist with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix, Arizona.[12] He also worked as an attorney at Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver, Colorado, prior to running for office.[13]

Kyl is a Presbyterian.[14][15] Kyl is married to Caryll Collins, with whom he has had two children.[16] They also have four grandchildren.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Kyl served in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. He was first elected in 1986 against Democrat Philip R. Davis, 65% to 35%. He was re-elected in 1988 against Gary Sprunk of the Libertarian party, 87% to 13%;[17] in 1990 against Democrat Mark Ivey Jr., 61% to 39%;[18]

For his first six terms, Kyl represented most of the northeastern portion of the state, from heavily Republican northern Phoenix to the New Mexico border. Redistricting after the 1990 census carved away all of Kyl's former territory outside the Valley of the Sun. The new 4th, however, was as safely Republican as its predecessor, and Kyl easily won reelection in 1992 against Democrat Walter R. Mybeck II, 59% to 27%.[19]

U.S. Senate (1995–2013)[edit]

Kyl during his first tenure as US Senator

Committee assignments[edit]


Kyl was elected by his fellow Senate Republicans to a succession of leadership posts: Policy Committee chairman (2003–2007), Conference chairman (2007), and most recently (in December 2007), Senate Minority Whip.[20] Kyl's ascension to Minority Whip makes him the first Arizonan to hold such an influential Senate leadership post since Democrat Ernest W. McFarland served as Senate Majority Leader from 1951 to 1953. Kyl is the only Arizona Republican to hold that leadership position.

U.S. Senate (2018)[edit]


On September 4, 2018, Kyl was appointed by Republican Arizona governor Doug Ducey to the state's Class 3 U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated due to John McCain's death until a 2020 special election could be held.[21]

Kyl is only the sixth person to return to the Senate via appointment since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment (mandating the direct election of U.S. senators) in 1913.[22] The last preceding case had been Norris Cotton (New Hampshire) who in 1975 was appointed back to the Senate after the disputed election of 1974.

Kyl voted in favor of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.[23] He resigned from the Senate effective December 31, 2018,[24] and was succeeded by former congresswoman Martha McSally, a Republican.[25]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Kyl at an event in Phoenix in April 2017.

Kyl is considered to be a conservative[26] and was ranked by National Journal as the fourth-most conservative United States Senator in their March 2007 conservative/liberal rankings.[5] In addition, in April 2006, Kyl was selected by Time Magazine as one of "America's 10 Best Senators"; the magazine cited his successful behind-the-scene efforts as head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.[27] Senator Kyl has earned a 96.58% Lifetime Score from the American Conservative Union.[28]

Kyl is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[29]

Crime victims' rights[edit]

Kyl was one of the original sponsors, along with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, of an effort to amend the United States Constitution to protect crime victims' rights in the criminal justice system. When in 2004 it appeared that the constitutional amendment would not receive the requisite 2/3 support to pass the Senate, Kyl and Feinstein authored the Crime Victims' Rights Act, which listed a victims' bill of rights and provided mandamus relief in appellate court for any victim denied those rights.[30] The act also offered sanctions against government officials who wantonly and willfully refused to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Arms control[edit]

In November 2010, Kyl opposed the New START arms control treaty's ratification in the lame-duck session.[31][32] Nevertheless, the treaty passed 71–26, clearing the constitutionally mandated two-thirds threshold by the narrowest margin of any nuclear arms control treaty ever ratified by the United States.

Internet gambling[edit]

Kyl and Bob Goodlatte were among the first in the United States to draft legislation on online gambling. In the late 1990s they introduced bills to the Senate that would curb online gambling activities except for those that involved horse and dog races and state lotteries.[33] The bill by Kyl, known as the Kyl bill, was not passed in the end due to certain loopholes. Attorney Jorge Van, at the time principal investigator of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission on Internet Gambling, pointed out that under the Kyl bill "state lotteries would be able to offer a variety of games under the guise of a lottery, including slot machines", which ultimately would allow "interactive wagering at home on the internet which the law aimed to prevent in the first place".[34]

In September 2006, working with then-Congressman Jim Leach, Kyl was a major Senate supporter of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act was passed at midnight the day Congress adjourned before the 2006 elections. Prior to it being added to the bill, the gambling provisions had not been debated by any Congressional committee, although the general issue had been debated in multiple times in the past.[35] When publication of the associated regulations was delayed until June 2010, Kyl responded by denying unanimous consent to confirm the appointment of 6 nominees to the U.S. Treasury Department, none of whom specialized on gambling issues.[36][37]


Kyl voted against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in December 2009,[38] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[39]


Kyl and Senator Tom Cotton speaking at the Hudson Institute

In February 2006, Kyl joined Senator Lindsey Graham in an amicus brief in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case. The brief presented to the Supreme Court of the United States an "extensive colloquy" added to the Congressional Record. It was not, however, included in the December 21 debate as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 would strip the Court of jurisdiction to hear "pending cases, including this case" brought by the Guantanamo detainees.[40]

In the spring of 2009, Kyl invited Geert Wilders to show his film Fitna to the United States Congress, which led to American Muslim protests.[41]

In 2011, Kyl said that the GOP had abandoned opposition to defense cuts.[42]

In 2012, Kyl voted against ratification of the UN Treaty Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[43]

He opposed the FIRST STEP Act. The bill passed 87–12 on December 18, 2018.[44]


Zadroga Act[edit]

In 2010, Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid wanted the Senate to return to work on the week between Christmas and New Year's in order to pass time-critical legislation including the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would ensure health coverage for 9/11 first responders. Kyl made a public comment that this would disrespect "one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate."[45] First responder Kenny Specht appeared on The Daily Show and replied, "You won't find a single New York firefighter who considers it a sign of disrespect to work in a New York City firehouse on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day."[46] The Zadroga Act passed on December 22.

Planned Parenthood[edit]

During a Senate debate on April 8, 2011, Kyl said that performing abortions is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does". Planned Parenthood responded that 90 percent of its services are to provide contraception, STD and cancer testing and treatment, and only 3 percent are abortion-related. A spokesperson for Kyl later claimed the senator's remark "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions." Politifact noted that Planned Parenthood's numbers (from their most recent Annual Report, year ending June 30, 2009[47]) are the result of self-reporting and that there is no national audit on such claims, but stated their belief that Kyl "vastly overstated" the number.[48] A political science professor writing at National Review suggested that perhaps Kyl's comments were based on the pregnancy-related services provided to pregnant women, citing Planned Parenthood's 2009 annual report figures and claiming that 98% of those services were for abortion.[49] The phrase "not intended to be a factual statement" was mocked by political comedians such as Stephen Colbert, who joked, "You can't call him out for being wrong when he never intended to be right."[50]

Political campaigns[edit]

Kyl was first elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating Samuel G. Coppersmith (D), then a member of the House of Representatives, 54% to 40%. Libertarian Party candidate Scott Grainger got 6% of the votes.

Kyl was re-elected in 2000 without major-party opposition, with 79% of the vote. Independent William Toel got 8%; Green Party candidate Vance Hansen also got 8%; and Barry Hess of the Libertarian Party got 5%.

On November 7, 2006, Kyl defeated real estate developer and former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson to win his third term in the Senate.[51] Kyl won with 53% of the vote; Pederson received 44%; and Libertarian Party candidate Richard Mack received 3%. The race was one of the most expensive in Arizona history, with Kyl raising more than $15 million and Pederson raising just shy of that amount.[52]

A major issue in the campaign was illegal immigration. While in the Senate, Kyl cosponsored legislation that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country. Once there, they could apply for permanent residence or be guest workers.[53] Since fellow Arizona Senator John McCain opposed this legislation, Pederson tried to use the issue as a way of allying with McCain and dividing Republicans in Arizona.[54] Controversy also arose when each candidate accused the other of supporting the amnesty provisions in a 1986 immigration bill, although both candidates deny ever supporting those provisions.[55]


  1. ^ "Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ)". Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jon Kyl sworn into office, giving Senate GOP 51 votes". September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  3. ^ Dayen, David (January 8, 2019). "Revolving Door on Steroids: Lobbyist Jon Kyl, Who Served Four Months in the Senate, Won't Disclose Some Clients". The Intercept.
  4. ^ "Jon Kyl: The Operator". Time. April 14, 2006. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2018 – via
  5. ^ a b "Political Arithmetik: National Journal 2006 Liberal/Conservative Scores". March 5, 2007. Archived from the original on August 6, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  6. ^ McConnell, Mitch (April 29, 2010). "The 2010 Time 100". Time. Archived from the original on May 9, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  7. ^ Ho, Catherine (March 5, 2013). "Sen. Jon Kyl joins lobby shop at Covington". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 10, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Jon Kyl, Former Senator, Will Replace McCain in Arizona". New York Times. September 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will be John McCain's successor in the U.S. Senate". Arizona Republic. September 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Jon Kyl Only 6th Former US Senator to Receive Appointment in Direct Election Era". Smart Politics. September 4, 2018. Archived from the original on November 26, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  11. ^ Wingett Sanchez, Yvonne (December 18, 2018). "Martha McSally appointed to John McCain's Senate seat". AZ Central. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  12. ^ Darrin Hostetler (August 11, 1994). "Bland Ambition: He's Running for the U.S. Senate as an Outsider, a Boring Straight Arrow with the Common Touch". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  13. ^ "LAW: Foundation that launched Interior chiefs Watt, Norton doubles down on litigation". Archived from the original on March 24, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Jon Kyl on Principles & Values". Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  15. ^ " – Member Profile – Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz". Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "Jon Kyl". Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Dendy Jr., Dallas L.; Anderson, Donald K. (April 20, 1989). Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 8, 1988 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  18. ^ Dendy, Dallas L. Jr.; Anderson, Donald K. (April 29, 1991). Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1990 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  19. ^ Dendy Jr., Dallas L.; Anderson, Donald K. (May 31, 1993). Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 3, 1992 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  20. ^ Bart Jansen; Alan K. Ota (December 6, 2007). "Kyl, Alexander Move Up in Senate GOP Leadership". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007.
  21. ^ Polletta, Maria; Sanchez, Yvonne Wingett. "Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will be John McCain's successor in the U.S. Senate". azcentral.
  22. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (September 4, 2018). "Jon Kyl Only 6th Former US Senator to Receive Appointment in Direct Election Era". Smart Politics. Archived from the original on November 26, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  23. ^ Taylor, Jessica (December 14, 2018). "Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl To Step Down, Leaving McCain's Seat Vacant Again".
  24. ^ Zhou, Li (December 14, 2018). "Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is officially stepping down on December 31". Vox.
  25. ^ Hansen, Ronald J. "Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally make history, face familiar problems". azcentral.
  26. ^ Robert Nelson (April 13, 2006). "Stealth Zealot". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
  27. ^ Burnett, David (April 14, 2006). "Jon Kyl: The Operator". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2008.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  30. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 3771 (West 2008).
  31. ^ Weber, Christopher (November 16, 2010). "Sen. John Kyl says Hell Block Vote on Arms Treaty with Russia". Politics Daily. Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  32. ^ Baker, Peter (November 16, 2010). "Senate Leader Deals Blow to President on Arms Treaty". The Caucus. New York Times.
  33. ^ Broder, John M. (July 14, 2000). "Measure to Curb Internet Gambling Gains in the House". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 12, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  34. ^ "Interview with Jorge Van: Legal Expert on Online Gambling". Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  35. ^ Nelson Rose (2006). "The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 Analyzed". Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  36. ^ "While Economy Burns, Jon Kyl Blocking Treasury Nominees Over Petty BS". Archived from the original on August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  37. ^ "Senator Jon Kyl Blocks US Treasury Nominations Due to UIGEA Delays". Archived from the original on August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  38. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress – 1st Session". Archived from the original on March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  39. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Archived from the original on August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  40. ^ Bazelon, Emily (March 27, 2006). "Invisible Men: Did Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl mislead the Supreme Court?". Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on July 18, 2006. Retrieved September 29, 2006.
  41. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (February 26, 2009). "Mr. Wilders Goes to Washington". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
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  43. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (December 4, 2012). "Dole Appears, but G.O.P. Rejects a Disabilities Treaty". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 27, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  44. ^ Levin, Marianne (December 18, 2018). "Senate approves Trump-backed criminal justice overhaul". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  45. ^ Weiner, Juli (December 16, 2010). "The Senate Debates the Meaning of Christmas". The Hive. Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  46. ^ "9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster" (Video). Comedy Central. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. December 17, 2010. Archived from the original on March 24, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  47. ^ Annual Report 2008–2009 Archived November 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  48. ^ Jon Kyl says abortion services are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" Archived April 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, at St. Petersburg Times, April 8, 2011
  49. ^ In Senator Kyl's Defense Archived April 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Michael J. New, National Review, April 13, 2011
  50. ^ Nintzel, Jim (April 12, 2011). "Colbert: "You Can't Call Kyl Out For Being Wrong When He Never Intended To Be Right"". Tucson Weekly. Archived from the original on August 21, 2019.
  51. ^ Josh Brodesky (November 8, 2006). "Kyl clinches his third term in tough race with Pederson". Arizona Daily Star. Archived from the original on September 26, 2007.
  52. ^ "Congressional Elections: Arizona Senate Race: 2006 Cycle". OpenSecrets. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  53. ^ "GOP Senators Look for Compromise on Immigration Reform". Fox News. April 4, 2006. Archived from the original on April 8, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  54. ^ Josh Brodesky (September 25, 2006). "For both sides, McCain becomes all-purpose asset". Arizona Daily Star. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  55. ^ "Pederson, Kyl trade barbs about amnesty". Arizona Republic.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Keith DeGreen
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arizona
(Class 1)

1994, 2000, 2006
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Preceded by Senate Republican Whip
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from Arizona
Served alongside: John McCain
Succeeded by
Preceded by Senate Minority Whip
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 3) from Arizona
Served alongside: Jeff Flake
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas former U.S. Senate Majority Whip Order of precedence of the United States
as former U.S. Senate Minority Whip
Succeeded byas former U.S. Senator