Sebelius Says No to Obama Cabinet Appointment
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 07:35:36 PM EST
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.