Earlier this week, I pointed out that when Janet Napolitano gets fired, it won't be for her incompetence or her gaffes, it will be because Democratic political strategists will realize that she is going to damage Democratic Congressional candidates in the 2010 elections.
Today, that theory is starting to go national.
The real and lasting damage, however, is not to Janet Napolitano's tenure in the Obama cabinet. Rather, it is to Democrats running in 2010.
Just as Michael Brown came to symbolize George Bush as detached and aloof, Janet has come to symbolize Obama as naive and weak. She's an albatross even assuming that there are no other incidents. If a plane goes down on her watch, the Democrats will lose the House and possibly the Senate.
Gabby Giffords represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District--that's the one that was represented by Republican Jim Kolbe for 22 years. It's also the Arizona District with the largest military presence. Fort Huachuca is within the district and most of the men and women who serve at Davis Monthan Air force Base live in the district.
In many ways the next election will be a fight over DM. Davis Monthan voters are more likely to vote on national security issues and unlike the rest of the nation to whom Janet is simply a deer in the camera lights, DM voters know Janet. They also know that Gabby knows Janet.
Napolitano is going to hurt a lot of Democrats in the fall--30 seconds at a time. But Giffords--who has a personal relationship with Janet, and represents a district with a heavy military presence of voters who also know Janet--is especially vulnerable.
So the race is likely to come down to who can best seize the DM voter. Gabby with Janet wrapped her neck, or the Republican challenger. It looks to me like the two likely Republican Challengers are pretty well positioned.
Update: The Star is running a straw poll asking whether or not Napolitano should be fired. Polls like this aren't scientific and the poll should be taken with a grain of salt because it is paired with an article about Kyl and McCain's views on Napolitano's performance. However, it is also being conducted in her geographic base. Pima county should be the number one county in the nation in which Napolitano's support is strongest.
So far, the results are 2 to 1 in favor of letting her go.