Napolitano to DHS

NAPOLITANO TO DHS…. There were widespread hopes that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) would find a role in the Obama administration, so the overnight news was encouraging.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) has been chosen to serve as secretary of the vast and troubled Department of Homeland Security for President-elect Obama, Democratic officials said. Napolitano is a border governor who will now be responsible for immigration policy and border security, which are part of Homeland Security’s myriad functions.

Napolitano brings law-and-order experience from her stint as the Grand Canyon State’s first female attorney general. One of the nation’s most prominent female elected officials, she made frequent appearances on behalf of Barack Obama during the campaign. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2006.

Reports about Napolitano’s DHS gig have been confirmed by the Washington Post and CNN, with the cable network, I believe, the first to break the news.

Napolitano has long been considered a rising star in Democratic politics, and was named one of America’s five best governors by Time a few years ago.

There are, of course, political considerations. With Napolitano joining Obama in Washington, Democrats will lose one governorship — Arizona is one of only a handful states without a lieutenant governor, so Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer will succeed Napolitano.

Also, Napolitano was considered a leading challenger to John McCain in 2010. It’s not impossible to launch Senate campaigns from the cabinet — Florida’s Mel Martinez pulled it off a few years ago — but it’s certainly far more difficult.

But most importantly, there’s the DHS job itself. Since its creation in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration’s management of the newest cabinet agency has been a terrible mess. (A few years ago, House Democrats released a report noting that DHS set 33 clear goals for itself — and failed to meet all of them.) Obama needed a strong, competent manager to clean up the department, bring some competence to the agency, and reverse some of the dysfunction that has burdened DHS for years.

Given her record, Napolitano is a terrific choice.