Arizona governor to head Dem convention platform group

Popular Democratic governor and veep/cabinet secretary short-lister Janet Napolitano was named chair of the National Democratic Platform drafting committee Tuesday.

Napolitano and a committee of two dozen elected officials and party insiders will draft the blueprint for the Democrats’ national agenda following a series of platform town-hall meetings expected to be hosted in all 50 states and U.S. territories from Tuesday through July 27. Eighteen Obama platform meetings are already planned in Colorado. The platform committee will finalize the draft in Pittsburgh on Aug. 9 to present to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver the week of Aug. 25.

"Barack Obama believes that every American should be able to contribute to the Democratic Platform, just as record numbers have participated in this campaign," said Steve Hildebrand of Obama for America. "It’s not the lawmakers in Washington who live the day-to-day reality of our policies — it’s workers, teachers, parents and first responders — everyday Americans who just want to the best for their families. What better way than to incorporate their voices into the process than to have them help shape the Democratic Platform, the statement of our ideals, values, and proposal for change."

Unlike the Republican party, the donkey platform is less driven by ideological groups using the exercise to advance their own agendas — a factor that ultimately caused 1996 GOP presidential nominee Sen. Bob Dole to reject the platform, which was written largely by religious conservatives. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reproductive health rights, immigration policy and the economy are expected to figure prominently in the Dems’ guiding document.

Napolitano has been frequently mentioned as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama because of her successful stewardship of Arizona government and strong appeal to women and Latino voters. It also doesn’t hurt that she could drive a stake in the electoral prospects of Obama’s Republican rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, in McCain’s own back yard.

Profiled this week in The American Prospect, Napolitano will likely need to summon every ounce of her legendary sense of humor in corralling the herd of cats with attention deficit disorder, better known as Democratic Party activists.