November 24, 2008

Go West, Young Man

Hatched by Dafydd

I don't believe anybody has yet noted that President-Erect Barack H. Obama, by choosing (as it now seems clear) Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his Secretary of Homeland Security (!) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his Secretary of Commerce, has opened the door a crack for Republicans in those states.

Both governors are very popular... and both states are up for grabs. It's not like selecting Joe Biden as running mate; there was never any danger that Biden's Senate seat would end up being filled by a Republican. But both Arizona and New Mexico are battleground states, up for grabs in the 2012 presidential election.

Arizona voted for John S. McCain in the election, of course; but that's hardly surprising, with a favorite son running. However, it was a disturbingly close: 52.5% for McCain to 45.1% for Obama, a margin of 7.4%. New Mexico was a bigger win for the Democrats than Arizona was for the Republicans: Obama took it by 56.9% to McCain's 41.8%, a 15.1% Democratic victory. I believe in both states, a popular Democratic governor wooed a significant portion of the voters to the left (and of course, in both states, a very large percentage of the voters are Hispanic, and Hispanics lined up behind Obama this year).

In the previous election, New Mexico went to the GOP by the slim and unconvincing margin of 49.9% for George W. Bush to 49.0% for John Kerry, a difference of less than one percent; while Arizona went to the GOP by double digits, 54.9% Bush to 44.4% Kerry (Bush +10.5) -- considerably more robust than it went for Arizonan John McCain this election. Had McCain been from somewhere else, I suspect Arizona would have teetered on the knife-edge and might well have fallen to the Democrat.

Clearly, Obama thought that selecting the two governors for his cabinet would advantage the Democrats: Both Richardson and Napolitano are term-limited out in 2010; they would have to leave anyway. But their successors will get to run for reelection in 2010 as incumbents, instead of duking it out for an open seat.

In New Mexico, the successor to Bill Richardson is a Democrat, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish; but in Arizona, the successor to Janet Napolitano is Secretary of State Jan Brewer -- a Republican (Arizona has no lieutenant governor, so the secretary of state succeeds the governor upon the latter's resignation). Thus, Napolitano's selection immediately puts a Republican in the Arizona statehouse and sets her up as an incumbent to win in 2010.

But what about Denish in New Mexico? It's clear that she is given a boost by getting to run as the incumbent; but even so, I cannot see her as anywhere near as strong a candidate as Richardson was in his two elections. Though Obama has done what he could to help out in that race, the GOP has more of a chance there than they did in either 2002 or 2006.

It may seem a small thing, having a chance to convert two Democratic governorships to Republican hands. But it's of such "little things" that big results can flow. If Brewer can hold Arizona, and if a Republican can defeat Diane Denish in New Mexico, then it's somewhat more likely that in the presidential election of 2012, the GOP can once again hold Arizona's ten electoral votes (which had seemed dangerously close to flipping) and might even return New Mexico's five back into red territory.

Without the "rage against the red" that characterized 2006 and 2008, its unlikely that former red states such as Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Nevada will remain blue; while even states that have been drifting a bit leftwards (such as Virginia and Colorado) will be more winnable by the Republican nominee... particularly if the nominee is someone exciting, like Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal, running against a Barack Obama who has lost his aura of newness, change, and hope in the crush of day to day governing.

Add in a possible New Mexico, and we have the nucleus of victory in 2012. Every little bit helps.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2008, at the time of 3:40 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Insufficiently Sensitive

Without the "rage against the red" that characterized 2006 and 2008, its unlikely that former red states such as Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Nevada will remain blue;

Well, there's some history that counters this optimism. I'd like to put some faith in the optimism, but let's recall that the Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for decades after the 1932 election, and it's a good bet they'll do the same against GW Bush - if they don't forget themselves and simply run off the rails trashing their new hate object Sarah Palin. There's no sign of any letup in that trashing in their wholly-owned MSM subsidiary.

The above hissed in response by: Insufficiently Sensitive [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2008 8:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/24/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2008 8:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: SJ Reidhead

Never fear. Val Kilmer is planning (so the gossip says) to run for governor here in NM in 2 years. Rumor has it Patricia Madrid is going to be tapped for Interior (why, I have no idea). She is the only "real" competition he would face.

Yesterday I wrote about this at the Pink Flamingo. I figure the whole idea is to have a big Democrat celeb running for governor for the photo-ops.

Right now it looks like we are going to have a redux of Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson on the GOP side. Wilson would have a fighting chance against Kilmer. Pearce will go down in flames. Too bad. I'm still annoyed at him for running for Senate and turning a solid GOP seat Democrat.

The Pink Flamingo

The above hissed in response by: SJ Reidhead [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2008 2:14 PM

The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

Heh. When Richardson ran, he promised it wasn't just a step toward the White House. Then he ran for President, and left his governeering duties to Denish. Her campaign will probably be, "while Bill was away, I ran New Mexico. I've been behind the scenes the whole time, and I have all the connections to make this state run." Not in such blunt terms, of course. What political machine ever admits its existence?

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 25, 2008 7:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Xpressions

The left-wing illuminati are going to choose a Republican one day, or at least that's what they claimed. They claimed change too, and we haven't seen it yet.

The above hissed in response by: Xpressions [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2008 9:14 AM

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