Sen. Kyl was recognized as one of the 2010 Time 100 most influential people in the world.
On February 10, 2011, Kyl announced that he would not seek reelection to the Senate at the end of his third term, which concludes January 3, 2013. He expressly ruled out running for further office except, if offered, the Vice-Presidency.
Early life, education and careerKyl was born in Oakland, Nebraska, the son of Arlene Pearl (née Griffith) and John Henry Kyl, a teacher at Nebraska State Teachers College. His father served as a Congressman from Iowa after moving his family to Bloomfield, Iowa. After graduating from high school in 1960, Kyl attended the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1964, graduating with honors. Kyl is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He then earned a law degree in 1966 at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law, and served as editor-in-chief of the Arizona Law Review. Before entering politics, he was a lawyer and lobbyist with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix, Arizona.
Kyl is married to Caryll Collins, with whom he has had two children. They also have seven grandchildren.
U.S House of RepresentativesKyl served in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. He was first elected in 1986 against Democrat Philip R. Davis, 64.5% to 35.5%. He was reelected in 1988 against Gary Sprunk of the Libertarian party, 87% to 13%; in 1990 against Democrat Mark Ivey, Jr., 61% to 39%; and in 1992 against Democrat Walter R. Mybeck, II, 59.2% to 26.7%.
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Committee on Finance
LeadershipKyl has been elected by his fellow Senate Republicans to a succession of leadership posts: Policy Committee chairman (2003–2007), Conference chairman (2007), and most recently (in December 2007), Senate Minority Whip. Kyl's ascension to Minority Whip makes him the first Arizonan to hold such an influential Senate leadership post since Democrat Ernest W. McFarland served as Senate Majority Leader from 1951 to 1953. Kyl is the only Arizona Republican to hold such a powerful leadership position.
Political positionsKyl is considered to be a conservative, and was ranked by National Journal as the fourth-most conservative United States Senator in their March 2007 conservative/liberal rankings. In addition, in April 2006, Kyl was selected by Time Magazine as one of "America's 10 Best Senators"; the magazine cited his successful behind-the-scene efforts as head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
Crime Victims' RightsSenator Kyl was one of the original sponsors, along with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, of an effort to amend the United States Constitution to protect crime victims' rights in the criminal justice system. When in 2004 it appeared that the constitutional amendment would not receive the requisite 2/3 support to pass the Senate, Senators Kyl and Feinstein authored the Crime Victims' Rights Act which listed a victims' bill of rights and provided mandamus relief in appellate court for any victim denied those rights. The act also offered sanctions against government officials who wantonly and willfully refused to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act.
Arms ControlIn November 2010, Kyl announced that he would oppose the New START arms control treaty's ratification in the lame duck session. Senator Kyl was unsuccessful in this regard, as the treaty passed easily.
Internet GamblingIn September 2006, working with then-Congressman Jim Leach, Jon Kyl was a major Senate supporter of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act was passed at midnight the day Congress adjourned before the 2006 elections. Prior to it being added to the bill, the gambling provisions had not been debated by any Congressional committee, although the general issue had been debated in multiple times in the past. When publication of the associated regulations was delayed until June 2010, Kyl responded by denying unanimous consent to confirm the appointment of 6 nominees to the US Treasury Department, none of whom specialized on gambling issues.
Health CareKyl voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
OtherIn February 2006, Kyl joined Senator Lindsey Graham in an amicus brief in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case. The brief presented to the Supreme Court of the United States an "extensive colloquy" added to the Congressional Record. It was not, however, included in the December 21st debate as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 would strip the Court of jurisdiction to hear "pending cases, including this case" brought by the Guantanamo detainees.
Planned ParenthoodOn April 8, 2011, Kyl spoke on the Senate floor and claimed that performing abortions is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." Planned Parenthood responded that 90 percent of its services are preventative, and only 3 percent are abortion-related. A spokesperson for Kyl later claimed the senator’s remark "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions." Politifact noted that Planned Parenthood's numbers are the result of self-reporting and that there is no national audit on such claims, but stated their belief that Kyl "vastly overstated" the number.
Political campaignsKyl was first elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating Samuel G. Coppersmith (D), then a member of the House of Representatives, 54% to 40%. Libertarian Party candidate Scott Grainger got 6% of the votes.
Kyl was reelected in 2000 without major-party opposition, with 79.3% of the vote. Independent William Toel got 7.8%; Green Party candidate Vance Hansen also got 7.8%; and Barry Hess of the Libertarian Party got 5.1%.
On November 7, 2006, Kyl defeated real estate developer and former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson to win his third term in the Senate. Kyl won with 53.3% of the vote; Pederson received 43.5%; and Libertarian Party candidate Richard Mack received 3.2%. The race was one of the most expensive in Arizona history, with Kyl raising more than $15 million and Pederson raising just shy of that amount.
A major issue in the campaign was illegal immigration. While in the Senate, Kyl cosponsored legislation that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country. Once there, they could apply for permanent residence or be guest workers. Since fellow Arizona Senator John McCain opposed this legislation, Pederson tried to use the issue as a way of allying with McCain and dividing the Republicans in Arizona. Controversy also arose when each candidate accused the other of supporting the amnesty provisions in a 1986 immigration bill, although both candidates deny ever supporting those provisions.
Kyl appeared in the U.S. national news near the end of the campaign as an example of a case where some bloggers were attempting to influence search engine results for searches on Kyl's name, using Google bombs.