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The Indispensable Man

Arizona’s Jon Kyl retires from the Senate.

Dec 31, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 16 • By FRED BARNES
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When Kyl was named in 2010 by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, McConnell characterized him as “a principled conservative who knows what is attainable.” His job as whip was to unite Senate Republicans as conservative as DeMint and as moderate as Susan Collins of Maine. He and McConnell, the Senate minority leader, became quite good at this.

Kyl was ready to retire in 2006. When a wealthy real estate developer emerged as the likely Democratic candidate, Kyl was prevailed upon to seek a third term. The Democrat, Jim Pederson, spent millions, but Kyl won, 53-44 percent.

By early 2007, he had decided not to run in 2012. He didn’t announce his plans, but gave a strong hint by failing to raise money for reelection. Had he begun fundraising, Kyl told me, it would have given a false impression.

Fifteen Republicans and zero Democrats showed up in the Senate chamber for Kyl’s farewell address, though New York’s Chuck Schumer wandered in and out several times without stopping to listen. Kyl didn’t reminisce. Instead, he focused on “some of the biggest public-policy challenges America faces” and recommended “principles to guide the way forward.” The speech was moderate in tone but deeply conservative in substance. Pure Kyl.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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