Sen. Jon Kyl retirement sets off two races: one in Arizona, another in D.C.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R) of Arizona announces his retirement, opening the door to candidates for his Senate seat as well as his position as the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
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On the Democratic side, the top “get” would be Janet Napolitano, who was governor of Arizona until President Obama tapped her to head the Department of Homeland Security. Two Democratic members of the Arizona House delegation – Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva – are also possibilities. Another delegation member, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, would have been seen as a top-tier choice, if not for her near-fatal shooting in Tucson last month.Skip to next paragraph
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Kyl is the fifth senator to announce plans to retire next year and the second Republican. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is the only other Republican so far. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, who caucuses with the Democrats, is also not running. The Democrats are Senator Webb and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
Kyl’s retirement will also set off a battle for the No. 2 spot in the Senate Republican caucus behind minority leader Mitch McConnell. Political prognosticators are handicapping a potential race to replace Kyl between the No. 3 Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Republicans are in strong position to retake control of the Senate in 2012, and so the No. 2 slot is an especially big plum.
Kyl announced his retirement Thursday in a hastily organized news conference in Phoenix, offering nothing more specific about his decision except that “it’s time.”
"Let me hasten to say that there is nothing negative about the decision that I am making," Kyl said. "My health is good. I'm fairly confident that if I ran for reelection again that I could be reelected. I do not subscribe to this notion that politics has gotten so coarse these days that civil people can't engage in it. I try to do it civilly and learned long ago that there will be people who don't engage in civil discourse, but if you [let that stop you] from serving, then you really ought to get into another line of work. There's nothing about that that causes me to step down.... There is no reason, other than the fact that I think it's time."