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.

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New Mexico: Week In Review (March 1 Edition)

Not quite as big a news roundup as last week. The start of the week was a bit slow, but the pace picked up near the end of the week.  Nothing as big as last week which featured the end of operations at the Albuquerque Tribune (still weird to walk by a newspaper machine at 3:00 in the afternoon and see a Journal staring out at you), but still some news happened.

Headlines

There were two Presidential match-up polls released this week for the state of New Mexico, and both showed Senator Barack Obama did better than Senator Hillary Clinton against Senator John McCain.  But both polls painted drastically different general election pictures.

Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP

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NM-Gov: Denish a Strong Gubernatorial Candidate

With Congressman Tom Udall seemingly more likely to jump into the New Mexico Senate race, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is increasingly free to do what it seems she prefers to do from the beginning: run for Governor in 2010 rather than for Senate in 2008. And in the case of a gubernatorial bid, Denish is already looking strong.

When Lt. Gov. Diane Denish said earlier this month she'd stick to her plan to run for governor in 2010, she had good reason.

Already, the Democrat has more than $1 million in the bank for the contest and no announced opponents.

While her ascent to governor might look like it will be easy, Denish wanted the word out Tuesday about how much she's raised. She was not required to post the numbers; she did it voluntarily.

The move could be to stem any opposition early in the process, said University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson.

"That should scare off potential opponents," she said. "War chests are good because they scare off people."

There are a lot of folks who would have liked to see Denish representing New Mexico in the Senate. But there are also a lot of folks who would be really like to see her as the next Governor of New Mexico. And at least at this very early juncture, she would seem to be strong contender (that is, of course, assuming she doesn't become Governor in 2009 should Bill Richardson become President or a Cabinet Secretary or Senator...).

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NM-Sen: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish for Senate?

We've been following the Senate race in New Mexico quite intently here on MyDD for the better part of the last year, with particular attention given in days since Pete Domenici announced his retirement. Congressman Tom Udall opted not to run for the Democratic nomination despite our best efforts to convince him otherwise, but Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez has jumped in, joining developer Don Wiviott. I've noted the possibility that Governor Bill Richardson could still get in the race should he decide after Iowa, New Hampshire and even South Carolina. But Markos brings up another possibility: a run by Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Kos points to this post by local New Mexico blogger Heath Haussamen.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish says, despite reports to the contrary, that she is "very seriously" considering running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici.

Media reports in recent days have suggested that she was making a deal with Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez to stay out of the Senate race if he stayed out of the 2010 gubernatorial race, and many have suggested her consideration of the Senate race isn't serious.

No so, Denish says.

"The compelling argument is this: The country is in a mess and what we need is really good candidates to step forward," Denish said today in an interview. "If the country wasn't in a crisis, I think I would not blink an eye (in deciding against running for Senate), but I think building a stronger majority in the Senate is a real priority at this time."

According to Haussamen, "Denish said she hopes to make a decision later this week."

SurveyUSA has done polling on this race, and from the results that we have, a number of people are questioning whether either of the candidates currently in the race are the right one to take full advantage of this opporunity in New Mexico. SurveyUSA quizzically did not include Denish in their questionnaire, so we don't have hard, public numbers on her matching up against Republican Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, the two pols most likely to be the GOP Senate nominee next year. Nevertheless, folks like Markos feel -- and I tend to agree -- that Denish is "the best progressive hope for the state at a time when Democrats should be able to make serious gains with larger majorities and hopefully the White House."

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