Stealth Zealot

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

This self-imposed isolation -- especially from the news media -- has taken a toll.

For a two-term incumbent, Kyl is almost laughably unknown to most Americans and to many Arizonans.

For example, in one ASU poll conducted by Merrill, 97 percent of Arizonans knew who John McCain was.

The other senator from Arizona.
The other senator from Arizona.
Still don't know who we're talking about? Keep reading.
Still don't know who we're talking about? Keep reading.

In the same poll, only about 55 percent of Arizonans knew who Jon Kyl was.

"He's the other senator," Merrill says. "While McCain is this dynamic guy who probably understands the power of the media better than anyone, Kyl is just the opposite. He doesn't seek notoriety, and he doesn't get notoriety. And I just can't say for sure how much that fact is going to hurt him in a race with a truly legitimate candidate like Pederson.

"Luckily for Kyl," Merrill quickly adds, "Jim Pederson isn't much different. They're both intelligent, thoughtful guys, but I don't think anyone would call either one of them 'dynamic.'"

With Pederson's attributes, and Kyl's weaknesses, Merrill still, for the moment, is predicting a Kyl victory.

If that happens, Kyl promises to better represent the state on issues that Arizonans really care about.

"I will be committed to gaining control of our border," he vows. "We just must rise up to meet the challenge of illegal immigration."

Whether he would continue to support the Bush administration and seek ways to make undocumented workers already in the United States legal, or whether he would truly represent the wishes of right-wing voters in the state -- who want illegal immigrants forced out of the country or jailed -- remains to be seen.

It could truly be a test of whether loyalty would rule over ideology.

And if he wins, Kyl promises not to slip off into any judicial or administration positions. His name has been bandied about for everything from Supreme Court justice to Secretary of Defense.

He's a Republican Party animal. He says that's why he won't step down from his position.

"This is the pinnacle, as far as I'm concerned," he says. "But first of all, I can't take another position because Governor Napolitano would get to appoint my successor. And that just is not going to happen."

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