It was reported last night that a recall drive has been launched against one of our U.S. Senators from Arizona.

Sen. Jon Kyl

No, not John McCain, who has been much in the news lately. (I know you were guessing him.) This barb is directed at our other Jo(h)n—Jon Kyl.

As the story says, some are angry at a number of his positions:

“Kyl’s recent opposition of providing health care to the 9/11 first responders and emergency workers was the final straw, said Leonard Clark, chairman of ‘Kyl Refuses Health Care to 911 Emergency Responders!’”

Props to the protestor for an overly detailed organization name (and for the use of an exclamation mark, which always rankles).

Here in Arizona, citizen–agitators are pretty run-of-the-mill. In fact, the tradition of spirited advocacy reaches all the way back to Territorial days. We heard that discussed at the commemoration of the Arizona Constitution’s Centennial on December 2, which we wrote about here. (And a longer article will be in the February issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.)

As the Republic news story suggests, the recall has a tough row to hoe and is likely Quixotic. But Kyl-protestors may take heart in the fact that the senator suffered a more stinging and pertinent defeat this week.

You may recall he drew a bright line in the sand on the START Treaty, which President Barack Obama wanted ratified before the end of the year. Give recent history, the Republicans likely bet that a diffident Obama would not cross the line. And they put Kyl out there front and center to wage the battle.

But Obama didn’t blink, showing that he can roast some chestnuts when he thinks it’s necessary. That left the GOP’s chosen warrior standing alone on the battlefield.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, at right (PHOTO: Drew Angerer/The New York Times)

But the real winner in all this may not be Obama, and it almost certainly will not be those seeking Kyl’s recall (and we already know it won’t be Kyl himself).

But it may just be the junior senator from New York. Often derided and marginalized, she came into her own with strategic—and successful—moves on health coverage for 9/11 responders and on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Read more about Kirsten E. Gillibrand here. She has shown quite a bit of savvy and spirited advocacy herself, and we’re likely to see even more in the coming year.