Senator Jon Kyl announced today that he is not running for reelection in 2012. This is, as Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard blog, a major loss for Republicans. Kyl (who must have the shortest name in Senate history) is knowledgeable, hard working, even-tempered. His political instincts are good and he is a paragon of civility. As the number two person in the Republican leadership, he has surely done a lot to keep Republican senators united. Why is he retiring, and in a year when it seems likely, as I wrote yesterday, that Republicans will regain a Senate majority? He turns 70 in 2012, but seems to be in robust good health. He says it’s simply time to do something else and that he never expected to serve 26 years in Congress; he was first elected to the House in 1986 and to the Senate in 1994. In one respect he’s an exemplar of the movement of the Republican base south and west: his father John H. Kyl was a member of the House from Iowa, chosen in a special election in December 1959 and elected to full terms in 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968 and 1970. He lost House races in the heavily Democratic years of 1958 and 1964 and was defeated by a Democrat in 1972, after Iowa lost a seat in reapportionment and the two incumbents were placed in the same district. In the meantime, reapportionment was giving new House seats to Arizona, where Jon Kyl attended college and law school and practiced law, and one of those districts elected him to the House 14 years after his father was defeated.