Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) has made it official: He won’t run for reelection in 2012. That’s unfortunate. He is a solid conservative, a thoughtful lawmaker, and all-around good guy. Matt Latimer, in his jaundiced memoir of his years as a Washington staffer, could not think of anything bad to write about Kyl — which is saying something.
The lawmakers who choose to leave in their prime are the ones who don’t have any psychological need to hold office — in other words, they’re exactly the kind who should stay. Those who crave media attention and other perks of office are the ones who ought to go — but they usually hang on until the voters kick them to the curb. (Think of Arlen Specter.)
— John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.