Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

Very interesting and surprising news from Steve Kraske of The Kansas City Star:

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who was a finalist for vice president last summer and under consideration for several Cabinet posts in a Barack Obama administration, today withdrew her name from the selection process.

The surprise move ends intense political speculation that Sebelius was on her way to Washington and that Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson was about to become the state's new chief executive.

In a brief statement e-mailed to reporters at 4 p.m. today, Sebelius cited the state's worsening budget situation in the wake of the nation's economic crisis as her reason for staying.

"Given the extraordinary budget challenges facing our state, and my commitment to continuing the progress we've made in Kansas, I believe it is important to continue my service as governor of the great state of Kansas; a job that I love and have been honored to hold.  The possibility of joining President-elect Obama's team is exciting and compelling, but my service to the citizens who elected me is my top priority in these difficult times.

"The good news for Kansans is that we will soon have a partner in the White House working with us as we face our unprecedented economic challenges."

I have to say I didn't see this coming. The Departments of Labor and Energy seemed like very possible posts for Kathleen Sebelius, an early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama in the primaries. Sebelius was even seriously mentioned for Obama's running mate, perhaps even among the top half dozen potential picks. So to not see her in an Obama administration is at least a bit of a surprise.

But it isn't necessarily bad news. Sebelius is likely the strongest potential Senate candidate for the upcoming (likely) open seat election in Kansas -- a state, I might add, that hasn't elected a Democrat to the upper chamber of Congress in 76 years. Sebelius is very well liked in the state and would be a formidable foe for whomever the Republicans nominate to succeed Sam Brownback, who has already indicated he will not run for reelection in 2010. So while Sebelius would have brought a great deal to an Obama administration, having her on the outside, potentially running for the Senate two years from now, could actually do more to help Obama and the Democratic Party in the long run.

Tags: kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, KS-Sen, Obama Administration (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

This is good news. We need her here in KS.

by dginkc 2008-12-06 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

I only wish Bill Richardson had done the same especially since throughout the Spring and Summer he kept on professing that he had the job he wanted.

I think Sebelius's rationale is well-put. Good for her.

by Charles Lemos 2008-12-06 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

As much as I'm in favor of Obama staffing his administration with the brightest and best talent possible, I agree with you and say good on Gov. Sebelius also for putting the needs of her state first. I believe Gov. Nepolitano should have done the same thing. As for Gov. Richardson, I'm not a particularly big fan of his, but believe his appointment to the cabinet is important for the Hispanic community to be represented. I'm just glad Obama didn't offer him Secty. of State.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-12-07 04:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

One additional thing: this leaves an opening for her to join the Cabinet after the midterms or, for that matter, in a second term.

by Shocker Jim 2008-12-07 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

The political naivety on this site astounds..

If you're being passed over sometimes you say you are not interested (usually right about when you've run out of any chance...). The person passing you over agrees to go along because while they are passing you over its the right thing to do.

by obama4presidente 2008-12-06 08:44PM | 0 recs
Another possibility

The first thing I thought was not that she was passed over but that she did not want to complete the vetting process.

by Mithras 2008-12-06 10:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

"sometimes", yes, sometimes, no. But this is good spin, and reminds everyone that she was under consideration for the Veep's job.

As I see it, anything less than AG or SoS is a step down for a governor, maybe "Homeland Security" now could be considered a promotion. Labor? Energy? Ag? Hardly a stepping stone to a Senate campaign.

I understand Richardson was just bored as governor, which doesn't really surprise me.

by BlueinColorado 2008-12-07 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

This is good for her. She will have another chance to run for Senate rather than disappearing into the administration. It's best that Cabinet jobs don't go to current elected officials, particularly in Red states where they're needed. That was the worst part of the Napolitano pick.

by Beet 2008-12-06 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: That was the worst part of the Napolitano pick

I totally agree with you, and would rec your comment regarding Nepolitano 100 times if I could.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-12-07 04:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

I'd also hope Herseth-Sandlin, who has been mentioned for a cabinet position, does the same. It would be dumb to pick her as she has a future in state politics.

by Beet 2008-12-06 10:05PM | 0 recs
I heard her speak

when she visited Obama volunteers in NC. She was wonderful.  She is a strong advocate of windpower. I was thinking she would be Energy Secretary.

by parahammer 2008-12-06 11:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

The 2010 election is going to be a wild one in Kansas.  Just about every major race could be open.

Governor Sebelius is term limited.  Brownback's leaving his Senate seat.  At least two of the four House seats are being vacated -- and possibly more than just those two.

It's going to be an interesting midterm election to be sure.

by Shocker Jim 2008-12-07 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

Brownback and Sebelius are likely to switch chairs and who knows with the house seats.

by Quinton 2008-12-07 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

Brownback and Sebelius are likely to switch chairs

I hadn't thought of it that way. Interesting. Good for the country, though I feel a little sorry for Kansas. I'll say this for Brownback, I think he's nuts, but he doesn't strike me as mean-spirited like Inhofe, Sessions or some of the other gems stinking up the Senate.

by BlueinColorado 2008-12-07 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

I'm guessing that she is very ambitious and sees the Cabinet as an ending point rather than something to help propel her forward... something the Senate can do...

She wants the Senate...  She'll look at either working toward a leadership position (first Female Majority leader?) or as a jumping off point to run for the POTUS in 2016 (or as a VP prospect then).

by yitbos96bb 2008-12-07 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

Remaining in Kansas = Big (or biggest) Fish in small pond (and lots of options looking forward).

Washington Bound =  Bigger fish in really big lake (questionable options looking forward).

Not so shocking if you look at it that way.

I actually did not see this as she was passed over, but that she made a list and decided there were more long term positives for her by remaining as Governor.  

In the same vein, I think that a lot of the star power in the future administration is going to be dampened by the realities of  No Drama Obama.  No room for Prima Donas (or Dons), and Stars are Primas.

by NvDem 2008-12-07 08:01AM | 0 recs
Now the problem is who is going to be Ag Secretary

Most of the names being chattered about are a positively anti-progressive, as opposed to the generally appealing blank slate Sebelius.  See Obama's Ag Sec: FAR WORSE Than Previously Thought by OrangeClouds115.

by tdub 2008-12-07 08:47AM | 0 recs
im glad

Sebelius should be the VP nominee in 4 years after Biden resigns.

by highgrade 2008-12-07 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment

I'm glad.

I'm starting to worry that too many of the party's leading lights are going to the Administration.

We need to maintain a strong farm team.

Besides, she'd be a better 2016 presidential candidate from the Governor's Mansion or the Senate than from a cabinet post.

by Bush Bites 2008-12-07 10:10AM | 0 recs

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