The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet Picks, SW Edition
by Todd Beeton, Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 01:30:41 PM EST
With the nomination by President-elect Obama of two Southwest governors to his cabinet -- AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano to head up the Department of Homeland Security and now NM Gov. Bill Richardson to head up the Department of Commerce -- that means that, assuming both of them are confirmed, the governorships of these two Southwest states will soon be changing hands. Unfortunately, both posts will not be filled by Democrats.
First the good news:
That person would be the state's lieutenant governor, Democrat Diane Denish, who stands to become become New Mexico's first female governor. Denish was Richardson's running mate in the 2002 and 2006 elections and with the governor term-limited out of the 2010 race, was planning a gubernatorial run of her own.
Now the bad:
Arizona doesn't have a lieutenant governor, so when Napolitano steps down to head to Washington, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer -- a conservative Republican -- takes over the job.
You know it's bad if Jim Geraghty is excited. He passes on this word from a source in the AZ state GOP:
We will now have a Republican governor because the Secretary of State is Jan Brewer. Since we control both of the houses of the legislature, a lot of bills that were vetoed by Napolitino will probably pass.
Arggh. Fortunately, the term Brewer will be serving out ends in 2010 but will Democrats be able to win the governorship back?
The Democrats have lost their best candidate in Arizona. Napolitano was a canny politician who knew how to outflank the GOP. I think going to Washington and taking up Homeland security will not be a boon to her future political career. Several Republicans were lining up to run for governor in 2010. With Jan Brewer as an incumbent, they may modify their plans.
So far, this transition from Napolitano to Brewer is looking like the only really bad consequence of Obama's cabinet picks, which is not too bad considering. Hopefully it will prove to be only a two year break from a Democrat living in the Governor's mansion but one wonders how much damage Brewer will do in that time.