Barack Obama has named Arizona's governor Janet Napolitano as the nation's Homeland Security secretary. This is Janet's biggest spotlight ever, and the country is being hit with a flurry of news stories about her.
Obama made it official this morning during a news conference in Chicago. According to an Associated Press article just out, Obama told reporters that Napolitano
... has spent her career protecting people. He said she understands the need to protect against terror attacks and to respond to natural disasters, and that she also understands as well as anyone the danger of unsecured borders.
The Business Journal says this morning that Napolitano has accepted the job and will submit a budget to the state legislature before she skips town.
An article in this blog on November 19 described some of the big changes Arizonans could see under the leadership of the woman who will take Napolitano's place when she leaves for D.C. next month, Jan Brewer, and other news outlets have examined in more detail what a Brewer-led Republican regime might mean for the state. In particular, the Arizona Republic has run almost daily reports on what conservative lawmakers may do to the state, with headlines that reveal editors at the newspaper are less than excited about the prospect. National reports coming out this morning take the govenor's measure and question how she'll deal with the job's challenges:
* "Lucky country, poor Arizona," is how a New York Times opinion article today sums up the situation.
* An AFP article notes Napolitano's love of Monty Python humor, calling her a "cheerful battler for Homeland Security."
* Reuters poses a list of challenges for Napolitano.
* Napolitano is "no border hawk" according to conservative critics.
Here is an excerpt from a news release put out by Obama's team this morning:
Governor Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
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Named one of America's Top Five Governors by Time magazine and one of America's top women leaders by Newsweek, Janet Napolitano stands out as a leader in developing innovative solutions to some of our country's greatest challenges. As Governor of Arizona, she's fought for quality schools, affordable healthcare, sensible economic development, a safe homeland, a secure border, and a government that is run efficiently and responsibly. She led the successful effort to create a new grade level in public school by offering voluntary full day kindergarten to every Arizona family. She raised teacher pay, expanded access to health insurance, and saved seniors millions on prescription drugs. Her homeland security background is extensive: as U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Napolitano led the Arizona portion of the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing; as Attorney General, she helped write the law to break up human smuggling rings; and as Governor, she implemented the first state homeland security strategy in the nation and opened the first state counter-terrorism center. She is a leader in coordinating federal, state, local and bi-national homeland security efforts, having presided over large-scale disaster preparedness exercises to ensure well-crafted and functional emergency plans. Napolitano was the first governor to call for the National Guard to assist at the U.S. - Mexico border at federal expense, and is a leading national voice for comprehensive immigration reform. The past chair of the National Governors Association- the first woman in history to hold this position- Janet Napolitano was re-elected in 2006 in a landslide victory as Arizona's 21st Governor. Prior to her election as Governor of Arizona, Napolitano served one term as Arizona Attorney General and four years as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
--- Ray Stern