Speculation begins on Kyl's Senate seat

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A seismic political shift Thursday as three-term Arizona Senator and Minority Whip for the Republican Party, Jon Kyl, announced he will not run for another term. The news creating a stir across the state and in Tucson.

"There comes a time when you have to consider other things," said Senator Kyl.

"Personally i was surprised, i thought he'd go again," said Jeff Rogers Pima County Democratic Chair.

While surprise was not uncommon, many Arizona democrats are thrilled with Kyl's decision.

"It's awesome news.  I couldn't have been more pleased," said Rogers.  "Number one, we get rid of one of the worst senators in the history of the United States.  Number two, we create an open seat that has a pretty good chance for pick up for democrats here in Arizona."

"Up until today, there was no hope in taking that seat," said former U of A professor Peter Goudinoff.

Professor Peter Goudinoff says Kyl would have been invincible. It was his seat as long as he wanted it. But now it's a whole new ball game, and republicans know it.

"Seat's going to be up for grabs, but I believe the republicans will hold it," said Pima County Republican Party Chair Brian Miller.

"If i were a republican I'd be worried about losing this seat," said Goudinoff.

Less than 24 hours since the announcement, The political jockeying has already begun. Lots of contenders' names already being tossed out.

On the republican side, Congressman Jeff Flake, John Shadegg, and maybe even J.D. Hayworth.

For the democrats, Maybe Terry Goddard, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, And yes, even Gabrielle Giffords.

Before the tragedy, Giffords showed interest in Kyl's seat. Now its unknown whether she'll go for it after recovering from her brain injury, but political experts say if she wants it, she can win.

"If she recovers fully and wants to do it, i see her as unstoppable.  She could be president," said Goudinoff.

Both local party chairs say its too soon to speculate on who will replace Kyl.  And both say they can win.

Senator Kyl will be in office until January 2013.