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Former Sen. Jon Kyl will return to Washington to replace the late John McCain, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday. "I consider it a great privilege to have served with John and I will miss him as a friend and as a strong force for America in the world", Kyl said at the memorial service for McCain in Phoenix.

"John Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John's", she tweeted.

McCain's fellow Arizonan, retiring U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who has been one of Trump's most prominent Republican critics, praised the pick on Twitter, calling it "an excellent choice!" The governor's spokesperson said last week that Ducey would wait until the services for McCain had concluded to select someone to replace the Arizona senator. There, he served as Senate Minority Whip, the second-highest ranking position in the Republican conference.

The appointment of Kyl will run through 2020, at which time a special election will determine who will fill the remainder of McCain's term, which ends in 2022. The seat will then be up again for a full six-year term.

By law, Ducey was required to appoint a Republican successor to fill McCain's seat, although he nearly certainly would have tapped a Republican regardless. The victor there will serve the remainder of McCain's term, until the 2022 election.

Kyl, an experienced foreign policy hand, will be entering a narrowly divided Senate where Republicans could gain or lose seats in November.

As Ducey's tweet suggested, Kyl is a guaranteed vote for Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, already serving as Kavanaugh's "sherpa" through the confirmation process.

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Once Kyl is sworn in, Republicans will return to the 51 seats they held in the 100-member Senate before McCain's death . He reached across party lines multiple times to warn of the dangers of waterboarding.

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Kyl, a former GOP whip, also worked in support of Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination for the client Judicial Crisis Network, which paid Covington $215,000 past year, according to lobbying disclosures.

With McCain's passing, the Senate has lost a voice that served as a strong check on Trump's actions.

The conservative former pol will pad Republicans' narrow margin in the Senate.

Senator Kyl represented Arizona in the United States Senate from 1995 through January 3, 2013. He brings exceptional gravitas as well as ties to this White House - though he said he's only met President Trump once. "But I think there's a happy medium", Kyl said.

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Ducey is required to appoint a replacement under Arizona law.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said given that the Arizona governor was "not going to appoint somebody who is going to vote with us, it's a pretty good appointment".


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