Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sebelius brings focus to Kansas

August 28, 2008

The Lawrence Journal-World said in a recent editorial:

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will not be the Democratic nominee for vice president, but the national attention she has received in recent weeks is a compliment both to the governor and the state that elected her.

In the countdown to Saturday's announcement that Sen. Barack Obama had chosen Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, most attention was focused on four people who reportedly were on Obama's short list: Biden, Sebelius, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. The day before the announcement, word leaked out that Kaine and Bayh both had been notified they weren't the choice.

That left only two: Biden and Sebelius. The choice may not have been that direct, but the two politicians seem to represent the choice Obama had to make. Do I choose the person (Sebelius) who reinforces my message of change in Washington and with whom I am personally comfortable? Or do I opt for the national experience and foreign policy expertise of a fellow U.S. senator (Biden)?

If Obama had been far ahead in the polls, it's entirely possible he would have chosen Sebelius. As it was, he saw the need to add something more to his ticket. Biden brings blue-collar credibility to the campaign as well as foreign policy experience. Because he has a long history with Sen. John McCain, he will be more effective than Sebelius probably could have been in attacking McCain's positions on the campaign trail.

Although her name didn't end up on the ticket, Sebelius is hardly slipping into the background. She is a co-chair of this week's Democratic National Convention and has said she will continue to be active in Obama's campaign.

Sebelius has presented a positive image of herself and Kansas in recent months. In interviews and public appearances, she has been an articulate and intelligent representative of the state. The last time elected Kansas officials received this much national attention may have been when the Kansas State Board of Education was considering the teaching of science in public schools. Most Kansans would agree that Sebelius projects a far more positive image of our state.

If Obama is elected president, it's possible Sebelius would be asked to play a role in his administration. Whether she goes to Washington or stays in Topeka, she has helped give Kansas a spot - and perhaps some influence - on the national stage.

Many national observers have been interested in the fact that Republican Kansas would twice elect a Democratic governor - although it's not the first time that has happened. Obviously, not everyone in Kansas is a Democrat or a Sebelius supporter, but her current prominence on the national political scene still should be a source of some pride for the state.


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