The pundits are wrong


The news chatters with suggestions that some Western Democratic governors will take jobs in the new cabinet being formed by President-elect Barack Obama.

Montana's Gov. Brian Schweitzer ... !

Arizona's Gov. Janet Napolitano ... !

Wyoming's Gov. Dave Freudenthal ... !

New Mexico's Bill Richardson ... !

Any of them would be good as the next Secretary of Interior or Energy or elsewhere in the Obama cabinet, because they'll connect the new presidency with its Western power bases and make more friends in the West etc. etc. -- that's what the pundits and conventional wisdom say.

But there's a big problem with three of the four ascending to Washington, D.C.

Schweitzer, Napolitano and Freudenthal would all be replaced by Republicans who now hold lower offices. And that would turn their states' politics pretty completely Republican, because right now, those three governors are Democratic bulwarks against Republican legislatures.

Montana's Schweitzer craftily named a moderate Republican as his lieutenant governor, when he first ran for governor in 2002 -- claiming middle ground to get elected. He still has the Republican as his lieutenant, and the lieutenant would take over if he leaves. Montana columnist George Ochenski notices the problem.

In Arizona, Napolitano would be replaced by a Republican Secretary of State, an important fact buried in this story.

In Wyoming, Freudenthal would also be replaced by a Republican Secretary of State, a fact no one seems to have noticed.

Only New Mexico's Richardson could leave without causing wreckage in his state, because his state is run by Democrats.

We'll see whether the national Democratic Party bosses consider the local fallout as they make their decisions, and whether the governors' ambitions conflict with the needs of their home states.
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