The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet Picks, SW Edition

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.

Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Diane Denish, jan brewer, janet naploitano (all tags)



Re: The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet

This was not a smart move by Barack H. Obama.Why would he let us lose a governor's seat to a conservative pug? He's only thinking of himself and his legacy and is not even worried about our borders.

by KnoxVow 2008-12-03 01:44PM | 0 recs
Exactly my friend.

Best choice for him.His cabinet gets better but Arizona gets screwed.Barack H. Obama is only looking out for himself.

by KnoxVow 2008-12-03 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly my friend.

Right, because Arizona doesn't benefit from having the best person for the job at the helm of DHS.  I mean, Napoliatano will only be in charge of implementing immigration policy and helping secure the country's safety, so it's not like it's an important job...  

Please, you sound utterly ridiculous and it's obvious that you're just here to stir up trouble for no reason.  

by HSTruman 2008-12-03 04:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Who the fuck are you?

Why do you disrespect me?I have been on this blog longer than you.I have the right to voice my opinion.Why do you want to crush dissent?

by KnoxVow 2008-12-03 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Who the fuck are you?

I have the right to voice my opinion.

1) Unless you own this website, you do not have any right to voice your opinion here.  On this privately owned website, we post at the pleasure of the owner.

2) Why, oh why, are so many people so lamentably ignorant as to what constitututes free speech that they begin whining and sniveling about free speech when someone criticizes them?

by Collideascope 2008-12-03 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Who the fuck are you?

what a terrible way that would be to run a political blog!

by Thaddeus 2008-12-04 07:00AM | 0 recs
It's KnowVox the Bitter

And this is her cheerful side.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-03 06:24PM | 0 recs

The original comment said she was the best choice for the job. How did you twist that into "Best choice for him"? Oh wait, that comes easy to the twisted. Never mind.

Take your axe grinding - and teeth gnashing - somewhere else, can't you. Like, to whoever's been tolerating your toxic drivel for the past several months.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-03 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly my friend.

One might say he's looking out for America.  I think that's closer to the mark.

by lojasmo 2008-12-04 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Or

I think that's probably it, but unfortunately, the difference between Napolitano and whoever his 2nd choice was is a heck of a lot smaller than the difference between Napolitano and Brewer.

by sneakers563 2008-12-03 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet

I'll tell you, as an Arizonan and an employee at one of the state universities, it's going to get ugly. Not only is the state legislature led by Republicans, but they are the yahoo types who hate public education, love guns, and think taxes should be cut low enough to not offer any services.

I think Napolitano will make a great leader at Homeland Security. I don't begrudge her leaving. I just dread what is about to hit this state. I can only hope that Obama helps out the states enough to counteract what the Arizona yahoos are going to do.

by Erin in Flagstaff 2008-12-03 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Run against them

"Let's try and win it all back in 2010 by running against the harm they're going to try to inflict on the state."

Exactly.  We can and should make it the Nevada of 2010.  Serious money and professionals to run things statewide, a true ground organization, registration drives, getting Latino citizenship applications held up by the Bush INS through.  If it falls short, it will work out in '12.

by killjoy 2008-12-03 06:41PM | 0 recs
Unintended Consequences

Of course, we can all hope that Jan Brewer will be Ev Mecham, ActII.

by NvDem 2008-12-03 08:18PM | 0 recs
There's something a little more interesting...

going on here.

Obama has "plundered" the Democrat party for the best and the brightest, as he should.  But, if this presidency goes south, a lot of good names will have a hard time bouncing back.  

Clinton, Richardson, Napolitano, Emanuel - these are all people with high ambitions.  I wonder if they considered the possibility that their careers are now not really in their control anymore.  

But, that is absolutely not a commentary on whether Obama should be doing this.  He absolutely should offer the jobs to all these people and it's up to them to decline.  Just an interesting side effect of the situation.  

by ab03 2008-12-03 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: There's something a little more interesting...

"Democrat party" eh?  Your McCarthy is showing.

by lojasmo 2008-12-03 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet
Great post! This is of course a problem for the Democrats who can only reach into the Clinton era for talent or raid the Congress and the statehouses.
Though Obama did bring Volcker from the nearly dead. Sad that Obama hasn't reached into the think tanks for some talent.
by Charles Lemos 2008-12-03 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet

Sad that Obama hasn't reached into the think tanks for some talent.

More of that change.

by KnoxVow 2008-12-03 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences

I think Napolitano is highly qualified and understand her selection by Obama to serve in his cabinet, but for the reasons you mention, I really think he should have selected someone else. In this particular instance, the tradeoff is too high a price to pay, imo. While I'm at it, I might as well mention that I'm disspointed Obama didn't personally engage to help Martin in Georgia.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-12-03 01:59PM | 0 recs
she could have declined

by ab03 2008-12-03 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: she could have declined

Doesn't make me feel better.

by sneakers563 2008-12-03 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences

While I'm at it, I might as well mention that I'm disspointed Obama didn't personally engage to help Martin in Georgia.

Afraid to look weak.Only looking out for himself.A running theme here in this thread.

by KnoxVow 2008-12-03 02:40PM | 0 recs

Martin's only shot was to win on election day.  There was no reason for Obama to waste his time going to GA for a losing cause.  Not one poll put Martin ahead at any time.

by auboy2006 2008-12-03 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences

You're the only one running that theme. Why are you back, KnowVox? Your bitter drivel would've identified you without your scrambled name.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-03 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences

The only one "running" the "theme" in this thread is you, troll.

by lojasmo 2008-12-04 08:21AM | 0 recs
my brother in AZ

thinks it will not be fun to be governor for the next two years--the fiscal outlook is terrible, so there will be either unpopular spending cuts or tax hikes (probably the former, considering the GOP control of the legislature).

He thinks Napolitano's popularity would have taken a big hit if she'd stayed in Arizona.

by desmoinesdem 2008-12-03 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: my brother in AZ

My cousin had the same thoughts.

Also, she's term-limited, so she couldn't have run for reelection in 2010.  

by bosdcla14 2008-12-03 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: my brother in AZ

He's right - Arizona is a service economy, there isn't any manufacturing of note there asides from the software and computer industry (Intel developed and manufactured its chips in Chandler, outside of Phoenix, in the '90s - I'm not sure if they still do).  It's otherwise largely a service economy, and when the housing market goes, Arizona suffers enormously.  I grew up there and my parents moved back there last year; they're honestly very scared right now, and I can't say I blame them.  Arizona will not fully recover until the housing market recovers, and that will be the last thing to come back.

Arizona developed because of air conditioning, the Air Force, and retirees/snowbirds.  We've still got a/c, but the Air Force cut back a great deal after the Cold War, so I think they're still looking for something to focus on, economically; retirees don't produce things, and there may be less of them as their pensions don't allow them to move West when they retire anymore; there's certainly less snowbirds this year, people are staying at home and sitting on their money.

by auronrenouille 2008-12-03 07:50PM | 0 recs
Boo hoo hoo?

Let's put things in perspective here - since 2006, we have not had a net loss of as single governorship, and the only reason we're losing this one is owing to a peculiarity in the state constitution, NOT any shifting of political winds. FYI - we now have a majority in Arizona's House delegation, amounting to a net gain of four seats within the past decade. The demographics are more and more swinging in our favor (in the West and nationwide), and with the flagging state economy (as astutely noted above), I cannot imagine that AZ voters are going to look too kindly upon a united Republican government in two years. I'm no huge fan of this pick myself, but come on - I really think we need to get our heads screwed on straight here.

by JFMDC 2008-12-03 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Boo hoo hoo?

You're right about all that, but it's still terrible for the people in AZ.  The AZ Republic noted a couple of weeks ago that once Napolitano is gone, the state legislature (where the Republicans gained seats this election) are planning on "[proposing] substantial cuts in funding for state universities, highway construction, bioscience research, pregnancy services for women in poverty, services for the visually impaired, and programs to prevent methamphetamine use among youths, among others."

Long term, AZ is trending blue.  Good for the country, good for the Democratic Party.  But short term, this is a nightmare for liberals, women and minorities in Arizona.  

As good as Napolitano might be as head of DHS, I don't think going with his second choice would result in significant differences over the next 4 years.  The head is only carrying out Obama's policies, and if it's not Napolitano, Obama can choose someone similar.  We have no choice, however, in who will succeed Napolitano as governor.  It's Brewer, and the difference between Napolitano and Brewer is vast.

There's also the problem of viable Democratic candidates.  Despite the the recent voting trends in national elections, AZ still votes very conservatively in local elections.  It's a hell of a lot easier to get elected as a Republican here.  There's not a lot of Democrats with star power here and we just lost one.  Everyone's talking about Grijalva possibly heading the Department of the Interior.  If that happens, we lose another.

I get the let's suck it up and work harder attitude, but between the gains the Republicans made in the legislature, the proposition results and this, it's tough right now.

by sneakers563 2008-12-03 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Boo hoo hoo?

Hypothetically, what would the consequences have been for AZ Dems long term if the state economy had tanked over two years with Napolitano at the helm and Obama in the White House?

by JFMDC 2008-12-03 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Boo hoo hoo?

Good question, I suppose it's hard to say.  I get your point, perhaps it's better to let Brewer and the legislature take the hit.  

I'm not sure it would have fallen on Napolitano, though.  She vetoes a lot of bills, I mean A LOT.  She has such a contentious relationship with the legislature that they would have blamed each other.  So far, she seems to have won out, but who knows?

by sneakers563 2008-12-03 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences of Obama's Cabinet

We'll get Arizona back long-term, but I'm worried for the near-term.  The front-runner right now on our bench is Terry Goddard.  I have a lot of respect for Terry Goddard, and I've met him before - the problem being that I met him when I was in elementary school, in the run-up to his campaign against Fife Symington in 1989 or 1990.  I'm not sure why they think he can do any better this time, although to my memory the election was pretty close - only for Symington to trade his office for pinstripes.

Having said that, I'd much rather have Napolitano at DHS than not; there's no reason to hold her back from what will be a long and successful career in national politics.  The Arizona bench is getting deeper and the state more Democratic, and I don't fault Obama for picking the best people.

Arizona is a very libertarian, small-government state, and I wonder if they'll amend the State Constitution to add a Lt. Gov. after this, as I tend to think we'll get a Democrat back in 2010, so long as either Goddard is a stronger candidate or they pick someone more appropriate; the demographics have changed a lot, both in terms of higher numbers of Latinos voting as well as the fact that the state has trended more to the middle lately due to both more Californians moving in as well as the fact that the locals are wearing thin of the GOP.  The religious right doesn't play well in Arizona; they're very libertarian there (see: Montana - we need a Jon Tester or a Brian Schweitzer), and the modern GOP is not libertarian at all.  The state would've been in play on the Presidential level if not for the fact that McCain was on the ticket this time, and McCain is now threatened in 2010 because of the fact that he renounced his prior libertarian viewpoints in order to cater to the national GOP.

That actually makes me wonder if our bench is deep enough to field both a strong Senate candidate as well as a Gubernatorial one... I think a lot of folks though Napolitano would run for Senate, but I guess not anymore.

by auronrenouille 2008-12-03 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Unintended Consequences ...
From the perspective of my own state, these unintended consequences are why I'm questioning whether I want Governor Sebelius to be offered anything at all right now.
For one thing, if she left, Mark Parkinson -- a former head of the Kansas Republican Party -- would be on the spot to defend against his former colleagues.  How much would he wind up caving?  Would he be willing to run at the top of the ticket in 2010 as a true Democrat -- and not as a Lieberman-style "independent" Democrat with Republican leanings?
For another, it would be hard for her to challenge for the Senate in 2010 if she's been in Washington for a year or two.  That would leave us with the hope that Dennis Moore might run, since he's not going to try to hold his House seat.
On the other hand, Governor Sebelius would doubtlessly do very well for the American people in just about any post she took on in Washington.  She's tremendously capable and would be a boon to the Obama administration.
It's a tremendous dilemma, but it's worth it.  It's far better that we're worrying about our man pulling in some of our best for the good of the nation rather than worrying about what "devil you don't know" is going to be left when the "devil you know" gets picked for the other party's administration.
by Shocker Jim 2008-12-04 12:42AM | 0 recs


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