5 Things You Didn't Know About Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano in Barack Obama Campaigns In Las Vegas
(Getty Images)more pics »President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet continues to take shape as top aides say that barring some unexpected glitch, Janet Napolitano will be the next head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Napolitano is currently the governor of Arizona, a traditionally red state that has come to respect her as a centrist Democrat. But outside Arizona, most people don't know anything about her. Here's a rundown on the next Secreatary of Homeland Security.

1. She works across the aisle

Napolitano is pro-choice and has worked to get Arizona schools sufficient funding. But she's also pro-business and financially conservative. In her early days, that mix got her lambasted by some of the more leftist Dems. The Phoenix New Times (the city's alt-weekly) called her a "neutered Republican," before she won the governorship by a narrow margin.

More recently, Napolitano has worked to secure Arizona's border with Mexico to reduce illegal immigration.

Napolitano has successfully walked the bipartisan line to become one of the most popular governors in the country. She's even won over some of her most outspoken detractors.

She ran against Latino activist and former state Sen. Alfredo Guiterrezz in the 2002 gubernatorial primaries. He said she had sold out on the death penalty and immigrants' rights, and called her reinforcement of the border "an insulting political ploy."

By 2006, Gutierrez had changed his tone. He called her "an extraordinary political figure," and said she had "an amazingly accurate calculus politically."

2. She fixed Arizona's budget

Upon winning the governorship in 2002, Napolitano inherited a state budget fraught with problems and drowning in debt.

Four years later, she had the budget in much better shape. Time reports:
In her first week on the job, Napolitano took on the state's budget-deficit crisis. She presented a proposal that eliminated the $1 billion deficit without any tax increases. She persuaded moderate Republicans to vote the bill through with the minority Democrats. Now Arizona's economy is booming, with a projected budget surplus of more than $300 million and 4% job growth, the second highest in the nation after Nevada.

3. She's "not gay"

Given her butch haircut and her decidedly rugged hobby of mountain climbing, speculation has swirled around the Internet as to Napolitano's sexuality. She's 50, still single, and has no children, so of course she's gay, right? Wrong.

Amidst speculation that Napolitano was serving a secret gay agenda, she announced "I'm not gay." But you can't control what people say... or write for that matter. The Phoenix New Times had this to say:
Sand Land could make history if Janet de-closeted. A state mostly known for its right-wing politics would suddenly have the only openly gay governor in the nation, the only openly lesbian Guv ever. Sure, pre-November 7, she might lose some of her 43-point lead against challenger Len "Premarital" Munsil, but she'd never come close to losing it all. Especially since most folks already have Napolitano pegged as one butch, k.d. lang-ish pol.

Napolitano last denied preferring ladies to gents back in the 2002 gubernatorial race, when in response to the charge that she had some sort of radical gay-rights agenda, she announced, "I am not gay." But few swallowed the line, and Nappy never even bothered producing an alleged boyfriend to keep rumors at bay. You know, a beard.

4. She Represented Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings

In 1991, Napolitano took on one of the highest profile cases ever. (This was pre-O.J.) She represented Anita Hill in her sexual harassment case against soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Two years later, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States attorney for the District of Arizona. Then in 1999, she cashed in on that experience by becoming the Arizona state Attorney General.

5. She has a proven allegiance to Obama

Endorsing Barack Obama for president wasn't a decision Napolitano took lightly. As a female politician, she had a vested interest in seeing a woman become the president of the United States. But she came out in favor of Obama anyway, and helped campaign for the future president.

Napolitano was rewarded early by being named to the advisory board for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, which was working out the details of the presidential handoff.

  • Janet Napolitano in Jeb Bush Testifies On Disaster Response Before Homeland Security Committee
  • Janet Napolitano in Jeb Bush Testifies On Disaster Response Before Homeland Security Committee
  • Janet Napolitano in Jeb Bush Testifies On Disaster Response Before Homeland Security Committee
  • Janet Napolitano in Jeb Bush Testifies On Disaster Response Before Homeland Security Committee
  • Janet Napolitano in Jeb Bush Testifies On Disaster Response Before Homeland Security Committee
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