Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Senate Minority Whip (since January 2008)

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Why He Matters

Frequently overshadowed by the senior senator from Arizona, Kyl prefers to work outside of the spotlight, and is often considered the more influential senator from his state - despite the fact that John McCain (R) is by far the more well-known.

Named one of Time magazine's best senators in 2006 for his ability to get things done, Kyl has moved up through the GOP leadership ranks, ascending to Senate minority whip when then-Whip Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) retired mid-term at the end of 2007.

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Morning bits

Must-read links to start the day.

Former Sen. Jon Kyl joins lobby shop at Covington

Former Senate Minority Whip is hired to help build firm’s lobbying practice.

Kyl: 'A lot of progress'

"Conversations are still ongoing. There has been a lot of progress," Kyl said.

The Hill suspends reporter, reverses itself on Jon Kyl statement

The Hill corrects itself on Jon Kyl quotes, suspends reporter

The Hill busts Kyl via audiotape

The Hill has audiotape of Jon Kyl saying what he says he didn’t say.

Jon Kyl: U.S. Embassy statement like a judge blaming a rape victim


Arizona senator uses a rape analogy in criticizing Obama administration.


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.

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The Issues

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.

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The Network

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.


Additional Resources

  1. Tasya Grabenstein, "U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl - New minority whip says voters are angry, frustrated and anxious," Arizona Capitol Times, Dec. 7, 2007; http://www.azcapitoltimes.com/freestory.cfm?id=6237
  2. U.S. Fed News, "Sen. Kyl issues statement on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," July 9, 2008
  3. Dan Eggen, "Limiting NSA spying is inconsistent with rationale, critics say," The Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2006; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/07/AR2006020701745.html
  4. Jon Kyl, "Financial Stabilization Bill," http://kyl.senate.gov/legis_center/financial_stabilization.cfm
  5. Cillizza, Chris, The Washington Post, The Fix, Feb. 10, 2011
  6. Bill Gertz, "Legislators push missile defense system; Beijing's threats not seen as remote," The Washington Times, March 11, 1996
  7. Nicole Gaouette, "Senate's odd couple times six; An unlikely coalition of 12 forged the 'grand bargain' at the heart of the immigration bill," June 3, 2007; http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/03/nation/na-coalition3
  8. Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon Jr., "America's 10 best senators," Time Magazine, Apr. 16, 2006; http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1184028,00.html
  9. Arthur H. Rotstein, "Kyl announces he will seek third Senate term," The Associated Press, Oct. 11, 2005
  10. Press release: "Kyl on Health-Care Reform," Sen. John Kyl's Office, June 10, 2009
  11. Don Harris, "Arizona Senator Jon Kyl prepares to campaign for his 3rd term in U.S. Senate," Arizona Capitol Times, Nov. 25, 2005
  12. Dan Nowicki, "Sen. Jon Kyl's dividing, defining moment; How migrant-reform effort changed the image of a powerful conservative," The Arizona Republic, July 15, 2007
  13. Biographical and career data taken from the Almanac of American Politics and Kyl's official web site, http://kyl.senate.gov/
  14. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/k000352/
  15. Jerry Kammer, "Kyl a quietly powerful force in D.C. Politics," The Arizona Republic, Oct. 31, 2000
  16. Rowan Scarborough, "Two on Hill set to sue Clinton to get missile defense," The Washington Times, July 11, 1996
  17. Howard Fisher, Capitol Media Services and Michael Marizco, Arizona Daily Star, "Kyl measer adds steps for entrants to work U.S. jobs," Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), July 20, 2005
  18. Mike Sunnucks, "Bush signs online-gaming-limits bill," The Phoenix Business Journal, Oct. 13, 2006
  19. Daniel Scarpinato, "Minority whip post could go to Kyl after Trent Lott departure," Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Nov. 27, 2007
  20. Vernon Loeb, "Senator Presses for Bill to Combat Terrorism," The Washington Post, Oct. 3, 2000; http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62836-2000Oct2?language=printer