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The Would-Be Senator from Arizona

Kyl’s retirement would have meant an opening for Giffords

Marc Tracy
February 14, 2011
Sen. Jon Kyl in December.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Jon Kyl in December.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Those looking to increase the U.S. Senate’s Jewish proportion from its current paltry 12 percent may have received some comfort from last week’s news that Sen. Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, is retiring. You see, the prime Democratic candidate for the seat is Jewish: I speak, of course, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Electioneering guru Nate Silver notes that, though the state does lean slightly Republican (albeit less so every year as its Hispanic population grows), Giffords is the most formidable Democrat—“a telegenic moderate who had won her last three elections, under highly varied circumstances, in a district that is quite representative (both politically and demographically) of Arizona as a whole.”

Of course, the prospect of Giffords’s mounting a statewide election campaign in the next year-and-a-half is something beyond remote. But Arizona’s other senator—that would be Republican John McCain—isn’t going to be senator forever. And given the truly astounding pace of Giffords’s recovery and her immense political skills (as well as, it must be said, the sympathy she is guaranteed to garner when she next enters the political fray), we can nonetheless hope to welcome this new Jew to the senior chamber one day.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.