Quietly, at least in these parts, a statesman and a long-time lawmaker representing Arizona, stepped away last week.
Of special interest to Southeast Arizona, Kyl was an attorney specializing in water law when he successfully sought his first seat in Congress in 1986. Once elected, then-Rep. Kyl earned a reputation for handling water-rights settlements between the federal government and the Indian communities in Arizona.
Never considered a political maverick, Kyl established a reputation for his ability to get legislation done. He distinguished himself quietly and did not join those who put their political careers ahead of the interests of those he represented.
That became especially clear in 2007 when Kyl joined Sen. Edward Kennedy, the well-known Massachusetts Democrat, in co-sponsoring a comprehensive immigration reform bill. As expected, Kyl’s actions spurred harsh responses from conservative members of his own Republican Party.
Despite the backlash, Kyl maintained his integrity and reputation, earning election later that year as the No. 2 Senate Republican leader — the minority whip — and further empowering the influence of Arizona inside the Capitol.
He served with five presidents during his time in Washington and witnessed some of the most significant events in history, including the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In contrast to his quiet manner and near-silent departure from Washington, Kyl’s contributions to Arizona speak loudly of his character and his accomplishments will remind us often of his tenure.
Well done, Mr. Senator.