Sen. Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, announced Thursday that he will not run for reelection next year.
That set off a race within the GOP caucus for his position as minority whip. Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) will run for the spot, an aide said, and Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is expected to vie for it as well. If Sen. John Thune (S.D.) decides against running for president, he is likely to enter the contest as well.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Kyl's retirement will be a "big loss" for the country.
Kyl, 68, told reporters in Phoenix that he is confident that he would win if he ran again, adding: "There is no reason other than the fact that I think it's time." He revealed that he had all but decided that he would not run again when he won six years ago. As for the future, "I wouldn't close my mind to being a vice presidential candidate," he told reporters.
Kyl has said that he intends to stay in public policy, just not in public office, which translates to...you guessed it...lobbyist time. Gotta go where the money is.
Speaking of money, having been in Congress (both the House and the Senate) for more than 25 years and at the ripe age of 68, Kyl qualifies for the very generous Congressional full pension and benefits for the balance of his life. Not including bonuses for his leadership position, Kyl's annual salary for being a Senator is $174,000, and his full pension is 80% of that or $139,200 annually. That means that the same man who refused to extend unemployment benefits to the 99ers, who wants to repeal health care reform in favor of "market solutions" and drastically cut services to those who can least afford it will be getting a nice little check of almost $12,000 every month from us taxpayers, thankyouverymuch. And that doesn't include whatever cushy job he gets at some K Street office.
Nice work if you can get it, huh?