Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday appointed fellow Republican Jon Kyl to return to the U.S. Senate and succeed the late-senator John McCain (R), tapping a replacement with deep roots in Arizona politics and who has been critical of President Trump.

Ducey announced that Kyl would serve through at least the end of the year. He said he hoped Kyl would consider staying in the seat longer.

“I wanted to pick the best possible person regardless of politics,” Ducey said, as he explained his decision at a news conference in Arizona.

Kyl served in the Senate from 1995 until 2013. More recently, he guided Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, as he navigated meetings with senators.

Asked about a past remark expressing concern about Trump, Kyl replied, “I stand by that comment.”

In February, Kyl said of Trump: “I don’t like his style. I think it is boorish. I think he’s own worst enemy. He could be much more effective if he were more politique, more diplomatic — of course that’s one of the things that people like about him — the fact that he isn’t that way. But I think there’s a happy medium.”

Jon Kyl remembers the late Sen. John McCain

Former senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) eulogized the late Sen. John McCain at a memorial service inside the Arizona State Capitol Rotunda on Aug. 29. (C-SPAN)

Kyl on Tuesday also explained that he had only met Trump once earlier this year, was in the process of shepherding Trump’s Supreme court nominee through the Senate and said the president often jumps into the middle of a fight, very much like McCain did.

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, praised the selection of Kyl, tweeting that it was a “great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona.”

McCain died Aug. 25 after battling brain cancer. He was 81.

Kyl, 76, served alongside McCain in the Senate and is a reliable conservative vote. One of the first votes he will cast when he is sworn in as senator will be on the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the high court.

McCain had been absent from the Senate since December as he underwent cancer treatment. Kyl’s appointment would give Republicans their full contingent of 51 senators.

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