But he's also some political baggage, too.
Parkinson would automatically become governor if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is confirmed as U.S. secretary of health and human services. President Barack Obama is expected to announce her nomination Monday.
The top leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature consider Parkinson intelligent and approachable.
But he may face some problems because he's a former Kansas Republican Party chairman who switched parties to run on Sebelius' ticket in 2006.
And he's never commanded the same loyalty among Democrats as Sebelius has.
He's already said he won't run for governor in 2010, even if he were the incumbent.
Click the video to see the career path he has taken over the years...and how the former Republican aligned with the state's most popular Democrat.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)