Should Janet Napolitano, Barack Obama's pick for homeland security chief, be confirmed as expected by the Senate, Napolitano will need to step down from her current position as governor of Arizona.
The state has no lieutenant governor, and its laws dictate that the governor, who is a Democrat, be replaced by Secretary of State Jan Brewer – a Republican.
The Associated Press reports that Brewer, who would be governor through 2010, "had a reputation as a fiscal hard-liner and conservative on social issues while a legislator in the 1980s and 1990s, so her taking over the governorship would mean a new approach from Napolitano's direction."
Since governors are not members of a legislative body along the lines of the House or Senate, a shift from blue to red in the Arizona governor's office doesn't hold great national significance. There would be far more fanfare if a Senate seat was to switch hands due to an Obama cabinet selection, though such a scenario is extremely unlikely.
There are three senators who have left or will likely give up their seats: Illinois Sen. and President-elect Obama, Delaware Sen. and Vice-president elect Joe Biden, and New York Sen. and secretary of state nominee Hillary Clinton. Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has already announced Biden's replacement, longtime Biden aide (and Democrat) Edward "Ted" Kaufman. Obama and Clinton's replacements, meanwhile, will be appointed by the governors of their home states, and both Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and New York Gov. David Patterson are Democrats.
The unpopular Blagojevich is under some pressure to name an African-American to replace Obama, perhaps Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.; other possibilities include Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Danny Davis, and Jan Schakowsky, Department of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, retiring Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, and the state's Attorney General, Lisa Madigan.
Candidates for Clinton's seat include Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand and Nydia Velazquez, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. There has also been some speculation that Patterson, an African-American who reportedly feels pressure to appoint a woman or minority to the seat, could appoint himself, though he has said he plans to run for another term as governor.