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Wake-Up Call: Refinishing the Obama cabinet

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 Fresh from his ten-day eco-devo trip to Asia, Governor Bill Ritter is now off on the East Coast, attending a Democratic governors' conference, talking with the Obama team -- and definitely not interviewing for a spot in the cabinet, insists his spokesman, Evan Dreyer.

Shortly after the polls closed on November 4, politicos were speculating about which Coloradans would be tapped to go to D.C. As noted in the November 26 blog "So Far, Obama's Snubbed Colorado For His Cabinet -- But Why Go for Napolitano?," Federico Peña's name surfaced, which was a good laugh, since he'd already been in the Clinton cabinet. Twice. More likely was Ken Salazar, because pulling a senator into Obama's cabinet would allow another prominent Democratic to break out and get a seat at the adult table.

But Ritter?

Colorado's governor was floated as a potential Secretary of Energy, which had a nice symmetry, since the country's first Energy czar, Republican John Love, also left a post as Colorado governor for a spot in the cabinet almost four decades ago.

If Ritter were to move to Washington, Lieutenant Governor Barbara O'Brien would automatically become governor -- which wouldn't do anything for ambitious Democrats here at home in the short term. For example, John Hickenlooper couldn't be rewarded for all his hard work on the Democratic National Convention with easy access to the Governor's Mansion.  Andrew Romanoff would still be competing with nineteen other secretary of state candidates. And so logic held that Obama would leave Ritter where he is.

But then there's Janet Napolitano. Yesterday's official appointment of Arizona's governor as head of Homeland Security not only raised questions about the judgment involved in raising her to that level (for more, read "Janet Napolitano's Sorry Service in Arizona"), but what Obama's leaving behind in Arizona.

Which is this: a new Republican governor whose politics are diametrically opposed to Obama's. Arizona has no lieutenant governor, and when a governor moves on, the secretary of state moves in. In this case, that means Jan Brewer will be governor of Arizona for at least the next two years. And it also means that Democrats, civil libertarians, gays and combinations thereof could be in for a very bumpy ride.

If Obama's willing to do that to Arizona, then Democrat Barbara O'Brien, former head of the Colorado Children's Campaign, becoming governor of Colorado looks just a little more likely.

Just a little. -- Patricia Calhoun


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