Thursday, November 20, 2008
Napolitano should say 'no, thanks' on DHS Secretary
PHOENIX -- According to the Washington Post and others, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to serve as secretary of homeland security.
If true, Janet should resist the urge to jump ship at home and join the federal bureaucracy in DC now. She is more influential and powerful as a well known western Governor than she'd likely ever be at DHS.
With high respect for our Governor, I and millions of Arizonans ask her, please, to honor our votes and her responsibility to serve out the next two years of her term as Governor, then join the Obama team in 2010 if that is what they both want.
If she leaves now, she'll be handing control of our state government completely to extreme Republicans, the political situation at the State Capitol will go from tough to dismal, and she may burn political bridges here that would make it difficult for her to ever come back. She would likely always be remembered mostly for leaving Arizonans hanging during tough times. It is much more important to Arizona that she stay and serve out her second term as Governor, to provide a critical check against the far-right-leaning legislature, than it is for her to take the DHS job.
At 51, the Governor still has many political options, but these options may be limited long-term if she abandons Arizona now. If she finishes her commitment as Governor, she could run for Senate in 2010, even if old John McCain tries to run again, and she would have a good chance of winning. In the Senate, she would be much more powerful than DHS Secretary, and she could likely stay there as long as she wants. Some are saying part of why Obama wants Napolitano is to woo McCain with a big favor by getting her out of Arizona.
Janet should know that cabinet posts are usually political dead ends, and effective Secretaries are often thrown under the bus due to politics. She could serve 4-8 years or less at the controversial and troubled DHS and then be done in the political world.
The Obama team is smart enough to know that Napolitano leaving now would be very bad for us here in Arizona. Perhaps they do not care? But they should. Arizona is now the second biggest state in the west, and taking our much needed Governor, especially during these critical tough times, may harm Democratic gains in our important state, and likely make it hard for Obama to win Arizona in 2012.
If the Governor is offered and takes the DHS job, I wish her the best and offer my help. We'll be watching to see what she does to end the Real ID legal exemptions so badly abused by Bush-Cheney-Chertoff DHS, and we'll be saying, "Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!"
OTHER COVERAGE: Napolitano Transformed, Border Reporter. Many implications in AZ, CQ Politics. Why Arizona Dems don't want Napolitano at DHS, The New Republic. Homeland futility, Village Voice. Napolitano could win McCain Senate seat, Tucson Citizen column. 'Gov.' Brewer may be hostile, Tucson Citizen. Arizona's loss, AZ Daily Star.