Though we have lightly mocked Governor Chris Gregoire, her buttoned-down, unglamorous professionalism looks pretty good right now. Especially when you consider llinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who's lately been comparing himself to A) a cowboy being lynched, B) a Christ-like martyr, and C) Pearl Harbor. (At least those are some of the interpretations we draw from his latest loony appearance in The New York Times. He really ought to be a cartoon.) For Blagojevich, of course, we have to thank President Obama, who vacated his Senate seat to be filled by a clown.
Then there's New York Gov. David A. Paterson, who faced a similar responsibility: filling the Senate seat left by Hillary Clinton. Naming Caroline Kennedy seemed a no-brainer: So what if she wasn't the most-qualified name? She'd bring glamor to the party, attract great media attention, raise millions for her fellow Democrats--including Paterson, who inherited his position by accident. (New York's former governor got caught with a hooker.) But, no, Paterson was apparently worried about the minority of upstate New York voters whose support he'll need in his first real gubernatorial race in 2010, so he appointed the most conservative upstate Democrat he could find: Representative Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who has no more in common with Clinton than her blonde hair. Clinton won two elections without Paterson's help (before, in fact, anyone had ever heard of Paterson). Gillibrand is a tax-cutting, gun-rights-supporting Democrat in Name Only (or DINO). Not only will she likely lose her next (real) election, but now Paterson--once loved by the press despite his marital faults--looks to be a future loser, too.
You could never imagine Gregoire, in a similar situation, appointing such a Palinesque Dem. It would be like replacing Jim McDermott with Doc Hastings. Nor would she ever offer a vacant Senate seat for sale, as did Blagojevich. She may not be sexy or have national stature, but she's honest. (And she had no problem last fall beating Dino Rossi, our state's closest equivalent to Blagojevich, right down to the hair, teeth, and hubris.)
Then again, it says something about our state's reliably blue electoral votes that no national candidate would ever need to pull a Washington State politician from the deck. We were always in the bag for Obama, just another state taken for granted. And if, as our Aimee Curl has reported, Ron Sims heads to DC, Gregoire will have nothing to do with his replacement. Meaning her scandal-free reign will likely continue uninterrupted.