December 2nd, 2008
03:49 PM ET
9 years ago

Two states, two very different lines of succession

 New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is headed to Washington.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is headed to Washington.

(CNN) - Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano: Both are governors of neighboring states in the Southwest. Both are headed to Washington. But their departure is triggering very different succession scenarios in their home states.

CNN has learned that New Mexico Governor Richardson will be nominated tomorrow as President-elect Obama's Commerce Secretary. For Richardson, who was Energy Secretary and UN Ambassador under President Clinton and a former Congressman from New Mexico, it means a return to the nation's capitol.

But who takes Richardson's job?

That person would be the state's lieutenant governor, Democrat Diane Denish, who stands to become become New Mexico's first female governor. Denish was Richardson's running mate in the 2002 and 2006 elections and with the governor term-limited out of the 2010 race, was planning a gubernatorial run of her own.

While the governorship in New Mexico stays in Democratic hands, it's just the opposite in neighboring Arizona.

That state's governor, Janet Napolitano, was nominated yesterday by Obama to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. Arizona doesn't have a lieutenant governor, so when Napolitano steps down to head to Washington, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer — a conservative Republican - takes over the job.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Griff

    Obama was Elected Governor for one Reason.. He was Black!!!!
    Now he is President EJect... Because he's Black???????

    December 2, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Tulsa

    Both will do their country and their States proud.

    December 2, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. pat huntington ny

    i'm concerned over all the governor appointments, because repukes can take the lead in governorships and will be bad news for dems come reapportionment time in 2010-11.

    December 2, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. T'SAH from Virginia

    GO RICHARDSON – And antoher hispanic should replace him!!!! Keep it REAL!!!

    December 2, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. deb in Colo

    Does Arizona not have a LT Gov position? Or is it just empty??

    December 2, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. FLewis

    I'm happy for Bill Richardson.

    December 2, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Matt in CT

    Poor Richardson, always the bridesmaid and never the bride it seems. Not envisioning any more presidential runs in his future.

    December 2, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Griff

    A Recess....To Re-Access... You America can't... Your in a Depression, you don't have time to check your Pockets....
    They are full of Holes...,.

    December 2, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Ken in Dallas

    Is there really any such thing as a conservative Republican??

    They squander money, lives, and principles. What exactly do they conserve?

    December 2, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Richard in Phoenix

    Nothing shows change in Washington like Napolitano's nomination as Sec'y of Homeland Security. Obama picked the person he wanted even knowing that it would move a governorship from Democratic to Republican control. This spirit of cooperation is a breath of fresh air following the past 15 years starting with Newt Gingrich's win at any cost attitude in 1994. Yes, some of the hardcore Republicans are fighting it, doing such things as labeling the recession we now know we've been in since 2007 as Obama's Recession, as if the president elect could do anything about it before he has taken office. But I think most Americans are tired of the decisiveness and want a government that wants to prosper by uniting us all, not by keeping us divided.

    December 2, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    ewww...gross now I'm realy leaving AZ within 5 years

    December 2, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Blue is my favourite colour

    Although PE Obama's selection of Napolitano was good, I was hoping to see her kick McCain's butt when he seeks re-election in 2010. Well, there's still 2 years to find a good candidate for senator and send McCain packing.

    December 2, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Scott NYC Independent

    I remember his positions on trade and exports; I like him handling the money

    December 2, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. gt


    December 2, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Darko

    Pat, take a pill...

    December 2, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. ch

    Poetic Justice!

    Richardson endorsed Obama and wanted to be Sec. of State but lost it to a political superstar- Hillary!

    John Kerry endorsed Obama and his home state of MA went to Hillary by 15 points! Then he wanted to be Sec. of State but lost it to a political superstar- Hillary!

    December 2, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. JL

    I think Richardson will do well in the Commerce role! I do wonder about the Arizona replacement, though...It's going to be odd for the people to go from center to far right without voting for it! I wish you good luck.

    December 2, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. jeff in illinois

    I read the words "a conservative Republican", and immediately thought that meant: HUGE-spending, rights-trampling war-hawk, but from what I've read about Jan Brewer, they actually mean "conservative Republican", like the old-school type.

    I'd actually much rather see Jan Brewer as governor of Illinois...we could really user her here.

    December 2, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Quiganomics

    Pat in NY: Yeah, but luckily having the lead in governships means squat when it comes to the national stage.

    December 2, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. JJ12345

    I wouldnt expect Napolitano to do much, she really hasnt done much for AZ. Richardson will do well!

    December 2, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Independent in Arizona

    I"m happy for Janet Napolitano, but she is leaving the state of Arizona in the hands of an ultra conservative who means to undo all the progressive measures Janet has worked so hard to put in place. Jan Brewer is anti-abortion and will quickly sign the laws our ultra-conservative legislature plans to put on her desk, ASAP. As governor, Janet has vetoed seven anti-abortion measures that the GOP majority has come up with–Jan Brewer will make certain that will change.

    Education in Arizona is a low priority with state Republicans and Janet has worked hard to push for all-day kindergarten. With Napolitano gone, the legislature will have free reign to undo her push for education funding. We will be left with a governor who intends to push for anti- gay and anti-abortion laws and will ignore the needs of the poor and needy, as well as educators in the state.

    Moving on up might be good for Janet Napolitano, but it is going to be a sad day for Arizona.

    December 2, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. I'm Not Missing The Old Mule & Winky Half-baked Alaska


    Shut your piehole.


    December 2, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Paul in Miami

    Richardson is a back stabbing bastard. He did it to Hillary, he'll do it to Obama. Bad idea to put such a treacherous person in your cabinet.

    December 2, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. The Truth

    I wish Gov. Richardson had run for prez. The 'majority' in this country is made up of hard-working proud hispanics that are becoming a political force in this country. Hispanics do not want hand-outs, they want jobs.

    December 2, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    the grasping Hillary is not qualified.... this is a real insult to the better Richardson....

    Hillary will be nothing but trouble.

    December 2, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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