BEST POLITICIAN Phoenix 2006 - Governor Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano's the hands-down champion when it comes to political maneuvering around here. The mere fact that a woman who comes across as this butch can get elected governor and, before that, attorney general in Arizona (of all places) is testament to her political IQ. Plus, she's a bleedin' Democrat! Somehow she's been able to avoid all the hot-button issues, or make us think she cares hugely about them without really doing much, and now the pollsters have declared her unbeatable this election year. She offended her bedrock feminist voters by refusing to step in to stop the rape of little girls by the polygamists of Colorado City (would have pissed off too many powerful mainstream Mormons who pull the purse strings in this state), but who else are feminists going to vote for in the governor's race? Whenever we criticize her at a cocktail party, longtime lefty Arizonans (yes, there are one or two) chime in: "But you should've been here in the past ? she's so much better than anybody else we've had as governor!" She came out strongly that something should be done about illegal immigration but vetoed every Republican-inspired measure the Legislature came up with to beef up patrols along the border. Oh, right, she supported putting some National Guardsmen down there. Big whoop! Now, we richly enjoyed seeing knee-jerk Neanderthals like Representative Russell Pearce put in their place, but we recognized Janet's tactics as classically, well, Janet. That is, she makes a lot of noise about solving a problem that's big with voters and then takes the least possible action. Yet it's all working. There's not a candidate around ? least of all the GOP's Len Munsil ? who has a snowball's chance in the Sonoran Desert of unseating her. She's gotten so powerful that, if she really is gay (like a lot of people think), Napolitano could come out and say so and still get elected. She'd be the first lesbian governor. We'd certainly never hold it against her. But she'd never do that! Which is why she gets our nod as best pol this year. A great career politician never does anything that's even slightly risky. A great politician stands firmly in the middle of the road.