Here we go! Gov. Kathleen Sebelius nomination for Health and Human Services Secretary triggers a political guessing game in Kansas.
Assuming Sebelius wins confirmation, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson ascends to the Governor's office. Who does he pick to take his old job? The Lt. Gov. from Sebelius' first term, John Moore, said Friday that he'd been approached about making a run for Governor. Getting back in the statewide limelight could up his stock if he's leaning toward doing so. Dennis McKinney has been mentioned, but the former House minority leader is less than two months into his post as State Treasurer - too soon to make a move? Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs shocked the establishment when he nearly knocked off Phill Kline in the attorney general's race a few years back, but do enough people remember that? How about former Congresswoman Nancy Boyda? Or are people still stinging too much from her defeat at the hands of Lynn Jenkins? And how about a host of perhaps worthy state senator and representatives, topped by the minority leaders of both chambers, Sen. Anthony Hensley of Topeka and Rep. Paul Davis of Lawrence?
The decision will be watched closely because of the implications it carries in the 2010 elections. Whoever is elected to the position will immediately draw speculation of aspirations for higher office, be it Governor or U.S. Senate. While Sebelius and Pres. Barack Obama are said to have re-energized the Democratic Party in Kansas, the 2010 election could signal how much that momentum has carried forward.
Also bearing watching is the impact this will have on the legislative process. While we've heard the snide comments that perhaps Sebelius' departure actually will help move things along, let's not forget Parkinson was the former GOP state chairman who left the party to join Sebelius' ticket. Which will win out among Republican lawmakers - the regard with which they once held Parkinson or the grudge they may still carry? If Parkinson adds Moore to the mix, you'll have two former Republicans in charge. It will prove another test of willingness to put aside partisan politics in the name of policy.
How long the confirmation process takes will determine how long this speculation on the Kansas political picture continues, so get your thoughts in now! Who should Parkinson pick? How will he get along with the legislature? Any major issues you see taking a new path with someone else in charge (i.e. does it change the coal plant debate?)? Let's armchair quarterback the political scene!