January 05, 2006
Veteran readers know my long-standing enthusiasm with Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic governor of Kansas. For those late to the party, we're talking a massively popular, female executive in a crimson state who wiped out a billion-dollar deficit with nary a tax increase and comes standard with a background in health care and a former governor of Ohio for a father. Time even named her as one of the top five governors in America. She was high on my list for Veep in 2004, and is looking even better for 2008.
But despite such big name supporters as, well, me, she remains virtually unknown outside Kansas and mostly invisible to Democratic activists. Meanwhile, her prospects for reelection are as solid as anyone in the country, with most of her serious challengers declining the race. Hopefully, when she wins in 2006, she'll start attracting a bit more hype, but until then, awesomely substantive and wonky interviews like this one will have to tide me over. And so they do. Given the current climate, it does my heart good to see a red state governor proposing a prescription drug program, a large scale response to Medicare Part D, and a massive reinvestment in education. So far as I can tell, she's the real deal, and you guys should keep an eye out.
January 5, 2006 | Permalink
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What do you think the chances are Sebelius isn't really interested in running for higher office? After all, there are at least eight people currently running for President, and there's a good chance that one of the losers will end up being Vice President, so why bother just to be a shot at getting a position many seem to think isn't terribly relevant?
Sebelius is 57. She would be 60 when the VP, and 68 when running for President in 2016 (either after 2 terms as VP or one term followed by a loss), at what will probably be Barack Obama's best shot at age 55.
Being the governor of a relatively low-population state is a fairly easy job. You work around the edges on education and health care, you raise a little bit of money, etc. Running for President or Vice President, on the other hand is an exceedingly taxing job, one that basically prevents you from having any friends or family for eighteen months. If I were in her shoes I don't know that I'd sign up.
Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jan 5, 2006 5:43:32 PM
Sebelius might be a good VP candidate for someone, perhaps Wes Clark, who needs some softening, and some actual governance experience.
Speculation about a presidential run further out are way ahead of the more basic need to win in 08.
Of course Rove would immediately launch a hidden slander campaign about 'women too weak for succession to the Presidency' which is already bound and ready for distribution (for Hillary).
I'm more concerned about the Allen-Gillespie latchup. Allen is the second coming of G. W. Bush, brought to you by the same sponsors of the same kind of empty vessel. Allen could even get a Texas ranch to add to the meme. This worries me..... really worries me. Is it possible that Bush looks intelligent and well-informed compared to Allen?
Posted by: JimPortandOR | Jan 5, 2006 6:20:37 PM
I would love to see her has anything national. And she might be a better candidate than Hillary because there isn't as much to attack about her, and it may be easier to make those who do attack her look sexist.
Posted by: Tyler | Jan 5, 2006 6:35:34 PM
"I would love to see her has anything national"
I should know but who are the Kansas Senators? I would rather have 5 more Senators than the Presidency. Ok, make that 10.
Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jan 5, 2006 7:08:04 PM
The Kansas Senators are Pat "the president's illegal wiretaps are constitutional" Roberts and a suit so empty even I, a resident, don't know his name off the top of my head.
I'm pretty happy to have her around. If she does have higher office ambitions, I would hope we have someone waiting in the wings to run effectively for governor in her stead. 'Cause Phill Kline is probably going to run for governor, and I can tell you definitively that he is scum of the sort to give Karl Rove a hard-on.
Posted by: Stephen | Jan 5, 2006 7:34:17 PM
The 'empty suit' is Brownback, who is one of the biggest Religious Right dudes in government
Posted by: anon | Jan 5, 2006 7:53:04 PM
Oh yeah, I forgot about Sammy because turning Bush into an elected-for-life "president" has taken center stage instead of "if we just hate the homos enough all our problems will be solved!"
Posted by: Stephen | Jan 5, 2006 8:02:09 PM
She sounds like the good type of Democrat--not blindly raising taxes while demanding accountability for the programs she promotes.....I hope she succeeds, we need politicians like that.
Posted by: Steve Mudge | Jan 5, 2006 8:53:28 PM
Actually, being a governor is a pretty tough job. Successful governors seem to make good presidential candidates. The voters like executive experience. Governors can also show "leadership" and "judgement" more readily. Sounds like she has a lot of potential. Don't overlook Governor Schwitzer of Montana either. Can you imagine the Dems running two red-state governors on the ticket in 2008?
Posted by: MarvyT | Jan 5, 2006 9:18:02 PM
I like her if for no other reason than here we finally have a middle-aged woman in elected office who does not dye her hair. Didja see Madeleine Albright tonight? Her wrinkles have so far outpaced the color of her hair that she just looks like a disaster, now.
Posted by: TigerHawk | Jan 5, 2006 9:54:31 PM
If the Dems nominate any of their illustrious senators as their presidential candidate, they may as well close up shop.
Posted by: sglover | Jan 5, 2006 10:11:30 PM
She should run as veep for Warner.
Posted by: Joe Lieberman | Jan 5, 2006 10:43:47 PM
At least Bush got where he is today because his Dad was President. George Allen got where he is today because his Dad was coach of the Redskins, for frak's sake...
Posted by: Chris Galdieri | Jan 5, 2006 11:10:10 PM
For a woman of 57, she's looking real pretty! I have nothing especially useful to add.
Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jan 6, 2006 3:24:32 AM
I can't say that I know the current state of affairs inside the Democratic party and am wary of guessing, if for no other reason than I am wrong about this sort of stuff a lot. But let me say that I find it hard to believe that she isn't on the list for vice president, even if it's in a lower position than a lot of other people.
I am not sure how you would classify her, but let me guess by saying she's probably closer to Mark Warner or Hillary Clinton than Dennis Kucinich. Yet, if the nominee is in fact someone like Warner, I am not sure it would be good to have her on the ticket. I think that in this election, we need to have someone who can both excite the base, which Edwards seemed to do, but also someone who doesn't have his problems of relative inexperience. But that's just what I am thinking. Hell, the last time we had to moderate Democrats in office, we didn't do so badly.
No matter, it's nice that we have another possibility. It just goes to give more weight to my idea that we have a much deeper bench than the Republicans so.
Posted by: Brian | Jan 6, 2006 8:59:11 AM
Successful multi-term moderate democrat governor, without tax-and-spend baggage, good on healthcare and education, who excites the democratic base. Except for her red-state thing, you are describing Howard Dean. We all remember how well he went over with the democratic leadership. Remember, the DLC is looking for "electability", not a good candidate.
Posted by: William Bollinger | Jan 6, 2006 9:50:36 AM
Well, #1, I don't think she should run for president in 2008, she lacks either the profile or the accomplishments. #2, though, if Dean had run as the governor Vermont knew, there'd be no Howard Dean, there'd just have been Paul Tsongas the second. Dean's campaign was a radical break from his tenure and understood persona. That's not saying it was bad nor inauthentic, just different.
Posted by: Ezra | Jan 6, 2006 10:00:33 AM
Remember, the DLC is looking for "electability", not a good candidate.
Who cares what they want? I'm with Kos on this one: the DLC can collectively go to hell.
Posted by: Stephen | Jan 6, 2006 10:41:33 AM
Our current president also lacked accomplishments, and his true profile was best kept hidden. Had he run as himself, he'd have been viewed as being closer to Billy Carter than anyone else.
I would guess that Dean would probably have been a mediocre president, for just the reasons you’ve mentioned, but mediocre beats the hell out of what we got. Democrats need to remember that no matter how good a candidate looks on paper (electability), it’s popularity (exciting the base) that gets him elected. That’s what a candidate needs to supply. His staff will supply the experience, contacts, expertise, etc that make a candidate successful. You don’t really think dubya comes up with national policy, do you?
Dean, with the support of the democrats and a capable staff, and a bit of luck, could have made a great president. Anyone who could have gotten elected, with the support of the democrats and a capable staff, and a bit of luck, could have made a great president. Democrats need to get over “electability”.
Posted by: William Bollinger | Jan 6, 2006 10:50:50 AM
Ezra—was Bill Clinton's profile really so much higher in January of 1990? I doubt his unfortunate DNC performance in '88 raised his profile very high in the national light.
The Dems need to run someone with executive experience and a short voting record this time, and someone who can believably claim to advance good ideas without partisanship. That's where someone like Sebelius could differ from both Howard Dean and John Kerry.
Posted by: Chris T. | Jan 6, 2006 11:15:31 AM
Kansas - this would be the same Kansas where they just changed the definition of science to include the supernatural? And you're suggesting the governor of this back-water would make a good national candidate?...thekeez
Posted by: Jeff Keezel | Jan 6, 2006 11:16:32 AM
I don't see how those are remotely related to Sebelius as a candidate and a person, unless she was for that.
In any case, her resume looks great, IMHO, on paper. I'd have to see her in public, her mannerisms, the way she handles people, before I was 100% convinced. But in the end, she sounds like a solid big ticket female candidate. Although I think that state she is from is the least important factor, its what she does that matters.
Posted by: Adrock | Jan 6, 2006 1:26:40 PM
Another thought: Would Sebelius bring anything to a national ticket that Janet Napolitano would not? And would Sebelius be more likely to help a Democratic ticket carry in Kansas than Napolitano would help a Democratic ticket carry Arizona?
Posted by: Chris Galdieri | Jan 6, 2006 1:34:49 PM
Yes, Clinton's profile was higher as a result of his keynote address in '84, his Carson appearance, and the multiple features that were run on him in national magazines when he was one of the (if not THE) youngest governors in the country. For some reason, youth is more of a story than competence. Not that Clinton wasn't competent, but the stories, as I remember them, basically ran on the theme of "damn, he's young!"
Posted by: collin | Jan 6, 2006 9:09:26 PM
Posted by: judy | Sep 29, 2007 11:39:11 AM
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