Janet Napolitano is Obama's Top Pick to Head Homeland Security

Governor Napolitano's apparently Barack Obama's top choice for chief of the Homeland Security department, leaving her the choice of advancing her career or staying in Arizona to stop her political enemies from running amok in her absence.

Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer would automatically become governor if Napolitano exits the state, adding real power to the Republican Party's recent wins in the Legislature. That might mean little or no wrangling on how to fix the ailing state economy -- it could be Night of the Living Budget Slashers.

Vetoes by Napolitano have angered Republican lawmakers over the years, and it doesn't seem likely that Brewer, an "old-school Republican," will stand in their way. Laws manufactured by right-wingers on immigration and abortion are bound to be rammed through.

It could be a dream Legislature for conservatives, and an unmitigated disaster for Democrats and liberals.

But the appointment of Napolitano to head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Justice Department and other agencies, could be a path to a new kind of immigration enforcement. As a previous New Times blog pointed out, Napolitano could yank the chain of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from her perch in Washington D.C., canceling the federal immigration power that allows his deputies to conduct anti-illegal-immigrant sweeps.

Then again, swept into the exciting upper echelon of Washington politics, Napolitano might forget all about little old Arizona. If she plans to leave us with likes of Jan Brewer, she's already forgotten. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern