Score one for Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and either a zero or minus one for former Kansas GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson, who recently switched political parties and now will be Sebelius' running mate for the 2006 gubernatorial election.
Sebelius once again proved her political smarts while Parkinson showed he is a political opportunist who perhaps is looking more toward the 2010 gubernatorial election, or possibly even a shorter time frame if Sebelius should vacate the governor's office and seek a U.S. Senate seat.
Whatever the case, the decision by Sebelius to invite Parkinson to be her running mate is sure to heighten interest in the upcoming election. Early in the election handicapping, Sebelius was looked upon as a heavy favorite to retain her office. It is questionable if Parkinson's switch to the Democratic Party and his spot on the Sebelius ticket will really add that many votes for the Sebelius effort.
Those Republicans who might consider voting for the Sebelius-Parkinson ticket probably would have voted for the governor regardless of who was her running mate. It is highly doubtful if any Democrats are going to withhold their votes for Sebelius because she selected the former GOP chairman as her running mate. The net gain in votes for Sebelius is not likely to be significant.
It will be interesting to see whether the Parkinson action strengthens the state's GOP or whether his move is like a thread being pulled that results in an unraveling of a garment.
How well-respected is Parkinson within the Republican Party? How good a job did he do as state chairman and how damaging will his switch to the Democratic Party be to the state GOP? How strong and respected was Parkinson outside Johnson County?
On the other hand, will his political flip-flop cause those in the Republican Party to redouble their efforts to oust Sebelius and to hold on to other state offices and House and Senate seats?
Again, it was a smart move by Sebelius but leaves many questioning the steadfastness, accountability and political opportunism of the former Johnson County Republican leader.
Could it be Sebelius wasn't that positive about her chances to be re-elected and decided to try to pull a political slam dunk by asking Parkinson to join her on the ticket with the idea he would pull many voters from Johnson County and help her secure a second term in the governor's office?
Only a few days ago the upcoming gubernatorial election looked to be rather dull. Now excitement and political spice have been added to the election, and it will be interesting to note how this will affect voter turnout - Republicans as well as Democrats.