TOPEKA, Kan. - Assuming Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) is confirmed as President Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary, she will then resign as Governor of Kansas and be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.
Parkinson would then appoint a new lieutenant governor. That decision will be closely watched because of its implications for the 2010 election.
Lt. Gov. Parkinson has said he will not run for governor in 2010. If he sticks to that decision, his choice for lieutenant governor would have a leg up for the position in the next election.
Some interest in the position has been expressed from legislators, but Kansas lawmakers are keeping tight-lipped about who says they're interested in the job.
A long-time member of the Kansas Democratic Party, who didn't want to be identified, says candidates for lieutenant governor, who would make strong contenders in the 2010 election, are: Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs; Jill Docking, a Wichita investment broker who was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by Gov. Sebelius; John Moore, who served as lieutenant governor with Sebelius from 2003-2006; and Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka).
Rep. Paul Davis, House Minority Leader; Sen. Anthony Hensley, Senate Minority Leader; and Rep. Raj Goyle (D-Wichita) have been rumored to be possible candidates, but all said the job is not something they're interested in at this time.
"I'm sure that Mark will sit down and have a very diligent process," said Rep. Goyle. "I think he'll sit down and really look at what the needs are and pick the best qualified person who can step into the job should he not be able to function as governor."
Rep. Davis said he thinks it's also important the next lieutenant governor work well with the legislature. "We like somebody that we can communicate well with and have a good working relationship with," Davis said.
Sen. Hensley said he would advise Parkinson to find someone who is interested in running for governor in 2010.
Although Parkinson has said he doesn't intend to run for governor in the next election, some legislators say once he gets a taste of the position over the next two years, he may reconsider.
Sen. Hensley said he hasn't ruled out the possibility Parkinson may change his mind. "People do change their mind in politics and once he assumes the role of governor, he may find that this is something he'd really like to continue doing," Hensley said. "He has the leadership skills to leave a very positive impact on the State of Kansas."