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Arizona U.S. Attorney for Senate?
Posted By Fahima Haque On February 11, 2011 @ 12:15 pm In News | Comments Disabled
Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke is being mentioned as a possible successor to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who announced on Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2012.
Burke has headed the office since September 2009. He’s been in the news recently for his office’s role in prosecuting Jared Lee Loughner, the man charged with the Tucson shooting rampage last month that resulted in six deaths and the serious wounding of Rep. Gabrille Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head. Giffords was planning a possible run for the Senate seat before she was wounded, the Washington Post reported .
Burke is experienced in the political arena. Before becoming the state’s top federal prosecutor, Burke spent years working for Janet Napolitano, first as chief deputy and a special assistant attorney general during her tenure as state attorney general, then as her chief of staff when she was Arizona governor and finally as a senior adviser on border security when she became secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
In the 1990s Burke worked on Capitol Hill and in the Bill Clinton White House, and served brief stints at Main Justice as a special counsel and later acting head of the Office of Legislative Affairs. During that time period he also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona.
Although Burke has never held a formal role in a political campaign, he has “volunteered in different capacities for numerous candidates at all levels and assisted in other party activities involving elections,” according to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire  he submitted in connection with his U.S. Attorney nomination.
Kyl’s said at a news conference  in Phoenix Thursday that he had considered retiring in 2006 but opted to seek reelection, as it was a “difficult year for Republicans” and “circumstances evolved,” prompting him to change his mind. But the 68-year-old senator said he did not want to seek a fourth term.
Kyl’s departure will free up a spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he is a senior member. He was also the Senate Minority Whip, the No. 2 position in the Senate GOP leadership. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, another Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will run for the leadership post.
Kyl is known for his conservative policies. He recently challenged President Barack Obama on the strategic arms reduction treaty, a U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty that was a foreign policy priority for the administration. He has also opposed Obama nominations  from his post on the Judiciary Committee, including Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.
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