In Transition: Janet Napolitano

(Lauren Victoria Burke - AP)
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Monday, November 17, 2008; 9:24 AM


Current job: Governor of Arizona (D).

Credentials: Former U.S. attorney and state attorney general; first woman to head of the National Governors Association; lawyer for Anita Hill in her sexual harassment case against Clarence Thomas.

What she offers: Napolitano, 50, combines law enforcement experience, chief executive skills and political savvy honed by two terms governing a Republican-leaning state. Napolitano was the first governor to call for National Guard troops to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and led colleagues on immigration and homeland security issues. She was a key early female supporter of Obama and serves on his 12-member transition team.

Vetting: The department is a high-risk, low-reward post for a rising Democratic star said to be interested in the Senate or in leading the Justice Department. The last ex-governor to head the department, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, struggled to navigate bureaucratic, policy and management minefields.

Quote: "Our federal government's failure to address illegal immigration has fueled a growing and understandable national mood of frustration and anger and has made Lou Dobbs who he is today. I've been at the crossroads of that political debate."

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