Stealth Zealot

Pop quiz. Who’s Arizona’s other U.S. senator? Here’s a clue: He makes Dubya look like a liberal

Regarding war power, Kyl was one of 19 senators in 2005 to vote against requiring the president to submit a report to Congress every three months on U.S. policy and operations in Iraq.

He has consistently sided with federal interrogators and investigators in cases seemingly in violation of constitutional habeas corpus and privacy rights.

In 1997, Kyl opposed a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

At the same time, Kyl opposed the production of Humvees with improved armor to help protect soldiers from roadside bombs.

Kyl also has consistently sided with pharmaceutical companies on issues regarding Medicare and senior citizens.

In a 379-8 House vote in 1987 in support of the Older Americans Act -- which included Meals on Wheels -- Kyl was one of the eight.

He voted to roll back laws protecting Medicare patients against overcharging by physicians.

In the late 1990s, he proposed legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat Medicare patients. In 2005, Kyl cast the deciding vote against an amendment that would have allowed the federal government to negotiate for lower drug prices under Medicare.

He also consistently harpooned federal assistance to college students. And he has not been much of a friend to the state's universities, colleges or any other federally assisted school programs.

He has for decades been vehemently opposed to abortion as well as stem-cell research.

And Kyl's record on civil rights is just plain disturbing.

In 1987, while opposing the creation of the Martin Luther King holiday in Arizona, Kyl mocked those who said it would hurt tourism in Arizona.

"I say fine," Kyl said in a story in the Red Rock News. "Let them go someplace else. . . . We've got much too nice a place to worry about attracting people to the state."

On Native Americans, from the Navajo-Hopi Observer:

"I'm concerned that too many Indian people -- and I will not characterize where they come from -- talk about trust and responsibility when they really mean, deep in their heart, having someone take care of them."

When Trent Lott praised Strom Thurmond's notoriously racist 1948 campaign platform in 2002, Kyl dismissed Lott's remarks, saying, "He was trying to make an old man feel good, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Kyl voted against providing federal assistance to states and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes. He voted against expanding the federal Hate Crimes law. And in 2001, he voted in the judiciary committee against expanding the areas covered by hate crimes laws to include gender, sexual orientation and disability.

A committee he heads, the Senate Republican Policy Committee, is urging a constitutional gay-marriage ban.

In 1994, a New Times reporter accompanied Kyl on the campaign trail. In Yuma, at a Republican event, an old woman asked Kyl a loaded question about African-Americans:

"Isn't it true that before he got shot, Lincoln was planning on sending all them blacks back to Africa?" Someone in the crowd then blurted out: "That's what he should have done!" A few people laughed.

Kyl's reaction, you could argue, sums up his career when it comes to dealing with the radical end of his party.

"Well," he said from the podium, "I've read a lot about Lincoln, and I've never heard that."

With the reporter, Kyl later reflected on the moment:

"You just want to grab people like that and shake them, and say, 'Don't you realize how that sounds?' It was an ugly thing to say. But what are you going to do? She was an old lady.

"And we need her, and those like her, to win."


Jon Kyl began that 1994 campaign believing he was running against three-term U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini.

At the time, DeConcini was struggling to brush off the effects of the Keating Five scandal. He seemed to be bouncing back, but not long into the campaign cycle, he decided not to run for reelection.

Kyl won. And with that win, the makeup of Arizona's Washington delegation changed profoundly.

With DeConcini, Arizona had a moderate political voice, but, more important, it had at least one U.S. senator who made it a priority to bring federal money back to his state.

DeConcini emulated Carl Hayden in that respect. Hayden knew that Arizona would never thrive without massive federal help, particularly for water projects. Hayden knew that in Washington, money doesn't flow to the western states without a fight. Hayden spent more than half a century in the House and Senate fighting for Arizona projects.

DeConcini, with Barry Goldwater, continued that fight. They brought tens of millions of dollars in extra outlays for the Central Arizona Project, while consistently battling for extra funding for Arizona universities, roads and civic projects.

John McCain is not a "homeboy" senator in that mold.

Jon Kyl, with his strong ideological stance against big government, definitely has not been a "bring home the bacon" senator, either.

DeConcini argues that this is Kyl's biggest failing.

"The best thing for Arizona are senators and members of Congress who will bring funds to Arizona whether they are authorized or unauthorized if they believe they are important to Arizona," the former senator turned lobbyist tells New Times. "Most of the Arizona delegation doesn't do that. To be honest, I think they just don't want to do it. It's hard work. You have to cut deals. But in the end, it is the work you have to do for the betterment of the state of Arizona."

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