Napolitano to Homeland Security
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, widely touted as an Attorney General candidate, has instead been tabbed to be Barack Obama’s Homeland Security secretary.
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.
In 2005, TIME magazine named her one of America’s five best governors, calling her “A Mountaineer on the Political Rise.” TIME reported: “The one issue Republicans think they can use against the popular Napolitano is illegal immigration, because the huge number of border crossings have left many Arizonans feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Her critics claim she came to the problem late, but she seems to have navigated it deftly. … Napolitano opposed … several bills that targeted illegal immigrants. Instead, she looked to the systems and people that make illegal immigration possible: she ordered state contractors to ensure that their employees are legal [and] set up an undercover unit to catch forgers of identity documents … In mid-August she declared a state of emergency in Arizona to direct more funds to protecting border areas from illegal crossings.”
An interesting and likely uncontroversial choice, continuing the “No Drama Obama” pattern.
What’s interesting here is the emphasis on illegal immigration rather than counterterrorism. The latter, you may recall, was the impetus for creating the new Department. Whether this signals a de-emphasis of that role or merely that they needed to put Napolitano somewhere and the options were limited, we’ll see.