Arizona Governor Doug Ducey joined me this morning:
HH: On a day full of news, I’m happy to capture Governor Doug Ducey’s time for five minutes on a Wednesday morning, because yesterday, he made a hugely-significant move appointing former Senator and future Senator Jon Kyl to the seat vacated by the death of the great, late John McCain, Jon Kyl of course, long-time our favorite senator on this show. Governor Ducey, welcome. Thank you for spending some time with us this morning to explain how you got Jon Kyl to do this, because I didn’t think you had a prayer.
DD: Morning glory, Hugh, and yes, it’s a beautiful morning in Arizona. The void that was left by someone like John McCain leaving us really called for someone with the stature of a Jon Kyl to step in especially this late in the session, and with this much important work to be done on behalf of the state of Arizona and the nation. And you know that Jon Kyl was the man selected by President Donald Trump’s administration to shepherd Brett Kavanaugh through the nomination process. So Senator Kyl was spending a lot of time back in Washington, D.C. anyway, and I appealed to him on behalf of the work of the state and the nation, and what was necessary. And thank goodness he said yes, he would serve Arizona again as United States Senator.
HH: Now I’ve explained to the audience yesterday when I was boldly predicting that Jon Kyl would never do it, because what a pain in the neck to have to leave a law firm, leave a business, file all the ethics stuff, get back up to speed, reassemble your staff. I’m just amazed that he said yes. It is such a pain in the neck to go in.
DD: You know all that, Hugh. Fortunately, I did not. So I appealed to the Senator on what was needed for the state of Arizona and what was at stake for the nation, and that he was the one living Arizonan that I could legally appoint that could come close to filling this void. And I could see his wheels begin to turn. And he and his wife, Carol, thank goodness for Carol. They travel together, so it’s a sacrifice for both of them. But they were at the Capitol Rotunda yesterday, and we introduced him to the press. I think the press was equally shocked, because Jon Kyl very happily left public life with his head held high and without a blemish on his record. He did not want to do this. He did not need to do this. He’s doing this because I asked, and I also think he saw that he could very elegantly fill this need.
HH: Cindy McCain, of course, is thrilled. Many other people are thrilled in Arizona. Anyone who knows Jon Kyl knows he’s just the best both gentleman, scholar and Senator. My question is how long has he agreed to serve, Governor?
DD: Senator Kyl has agreed to serve through the completion of this Congress. He sees certain work that needs to be done – the confirmation, there are water issues, appropriation issues, land use issues in Arizona and Native American issues that we have. Like I said, he doesn’t want to serve. He’s serving on behalf of the need of the state. I’m hopeful that he will serve longer, so he’s committed to going back there and doing this, and also to giving me appropriate warning if things change.
HH: Now obviously, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, he will be sworn in today, I believe. And therefore, he will be able to vote on it. Did that factor in your conversations with him, the desire to be able to vote for the individual judge who’s going to become the fifth key justice on the Supreme Court?
DD: I think that he has a lot of confidence that Brett Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed. I think more what he saw is that this is not a time for newcomers. This is not a time for on the job training. When there’s a new Congress, there’s an onboarding process. So if there were someone in that situation, they would have a chance to get up to speed. But you’re really going back and have to jump on a fast-moving merry-go-round right now, and he was spending a lot of time back there anyway in advocating for the nomination. So I think that made sense to him. And I’m glad you pointed out that Cindy McCain was thrilled with the pick, along with Meghan McCain. And of course, this was already President Donald Trump’s pick to shepherd Kavanaugh through the process. So I think all conservatives, all Fed. Soc. folks who believe in a Court that properly interprets the law can be really thrilled with this decision.
HH: He will also, last question, Governor Ducey, the Arizona boom is real. It’s continuing. But it does help to have someone who knows, I don’t know if he’s going to go back on the Taxation committee. I don’t know what committee he’s going to be on, but he’ll certainly have the ear of the Majority Leader, don’t you think?
DD: Oh, I believe so. I had many conversations with Mitch McConnell through this. And this is the first time in the 105-plus year history of Arizona that a senator has ever been appointed. So there are certain things, of course, Mitch McConnell knows how to do this. But there were things that we had to do to get our secretary of state to coordinate with the secretary of the Senate on all the legal materials. And Gretchen Conger, my deputy chief, escorted Senator Jon Kyl back to Washington to make sure all the legal paperwork to be completed with the Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. He was thrilled with this, and what my deputy chief, Gretchen Conger said, that in the airport on the way to Washington, people were fist-bumping Senator Kyl and giving him shout-outs. So the citizens of Arizona know Jon Kyl. They trust Jon Kyl. And they’re grateful that Jon Kyl is going to help us through this very difficult situation.
HH: Governor Doug Ducey, congratulations on making the best pick possible and persuading Jon Kyl. Thanks to Jon Kyl, if you’re listening back in D.C., for agreeing to serve, and to your wonderful wife.
End of interview.