Wednesday, May 05, 2004

John McIntyre handicaps the Democratic VP sweepstakes in today’s commentary installment at RealClearPolitics.com. Amongst the half dozen serious contenders he profiles is Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. McIntyre considers Janet a lightweight long shot for the nod, but opines that she could nonetheless shift the Grand Canyon State’s 10 electoral votes into the Kerry column should she survive the review process.

I’m not so sure. In 2000, Napolitano eked out an 18,000 vote margin of victory in this traditionally Republican state by being in the right place at the right time, more or less. Outgoing lame duck Gov. Jane Hull, a dour, charmless woman who ascended to office after Fife Symington resigned following federal fraud and extortion indictments, was at the center of a huge budget scandal that rocked the Republican leadership throughout the Capitol. Napolitano, the sitting Attorney General, and only Democrat holding a major State elected office at the time, was considered squeaky clean by comparison.

Thus far, nothing Napolitano’s done in office leads me to believe she’ll be able to fully capitalize on her 2000 victory and convert this little corner of Bush Country. Last year’s pipeline crisis, which caused profound gasoline price spikes throughout Metro Phoenix, is still fresh in voters’ minds, as is Janet’s feeble handling of it. Add to that a certain level of voter mistrust over her attempts to close pesky tax “loopholes”, like the lack of a state sales tax on home sales, and you don’t exactly have the profile of a strong candidate that can clinch a so-called swing state.

As much as I’d love to see Janet on the losing Kerry ticket, I just don’t think she’ll garner as much serious consideration as some might think.