At a Glance
- Career History: Republican Conference chairman (January 2007-January 2008); Senate GOP Policy Committee chairman (2003 to 2007); U.S. Representative (1987 to 1995)
- Birthday: April 25, 1942
- Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
- Alma Mater: University of Arizona, B.A. (political science), 1964; University of Arizona, LL.B., 1966
- Spouse: Caryll
- Religion: Presbyterian
- DC Office: 730 Hart Senate Office Building, 202-224-4521
Path to Power
Kyl was born in Nebraska and grew up in Iowa, from which his father, John Kyl, was a representative in Congress for a dozen years. The older Kyl took his son to Washington, D.C. for a summer in 1963 and coached him in public speaking, which helped prepare him for a life in politics.
Kyl went to college at the University of Arizona and decided to stay in the Grand Canyon State. After law school, he joined the Phoenix law firm Jennings, Strouss and Salmon, where he lobbied the Arizona legislature on water issues. He became president of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1985 and decided to run for the House in 1986 instead of becoming partner at his law firm.
Despite his role as head of the GOP conference, Kyl voted with the Republican Party just 83.2 percent of the time in the 110th Congress, In 2006, Kyl's ability to compromise won him a spot on Time's 10 Best Senator's list, which named him "The Operator" for his ability to get things done.
Yet Kyl is also considered a staunch conservative on most issues ranging from taxes to national defense and social programs.
Vice President Dick Cheney is a good friend from their days in the House together, and Cheney worked closely with Kyl during his tenure in the White House.
Kyl's chief of staff from 1997 to 2001, Laurie Fenton, took a job with the Commerce Department in 2001 and then became president of the Alliance for Lung Cancer in 2005. Kyl is also very close to Arizona's other senator, John McCain.