Governors in the position of having an opportunity to pick a Senate seat certainly do face a daunting decision. They can promote a political ally, or give a boost to someone who can in turn, either through their personal popularity or their fundraising prowess, help the Governor further his or her own political career.
But the pitfalls are many as well. Choose poorly the reverse can happen. A Governor can turn an ally into an enemy, or suffer in terms of his or her own popularity because some people may disagree with the Senate selection.
What is clear though, is that the longer a Governor takes, the more intensely the spotlight shines, and the bigger the risks become.
We've obviously seen the Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, but even that is now taking a backseat to the intense and growing pressure that New York Governor David Paterson is under to alternately select Caroline Kennedy or not to select Caroline Kennedy (and if not Caroline Kennedy then all kinds of contradictory pressures as to who other than her to select.)
In contrast, outgoing Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner is leaving office without much heat. Granted, she is apparently retiring anyway, but despite questions that have been raised over her selection of an obscure aide to Joe Biden who is apparently just going to serve two years and keep the seat warm for Beau Biden, Joe's son who will run as soon as he gets back from Iraq, Minner isn't the focus of much media heat.
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is starting to face a similar spotlight. The biggest question is whether he will appoint Ken Salazar's older brother, Congressman John Salazar to the Senate seat, or whether it will be someone with a different surname. My advice to Governor Ritter is this: If he doesn't want to end up in the same position as Governor Paterson, where virtually anything he does is sure to tick off a majority of the public and make some powerful enemies, he should act quickly and decisively and put a name out there.