Archive for Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sebelius drops out of Cabinet consideration; cites state’s fiscal crisis

Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius

Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius

Gov. Sebelius is staying in Kansas to help heal the state's economy. She asked President-elect Barack Obama to take her name out of consideration for a cabinet spot.

December 7, 2008


— After weeks of speculation, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced Saturday she doesn’t want to be considered for a Cabinet position in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.

Sebelius said she made the decision because of the worsening budget problems facing Kansas.

“The possibility of joining President-elect Obama’s team is exciting and compelling, but my service to the citizens who elected me is my top priority in these difficult times,” she said in a three-sentence statement released to the media.

A contender

During the summer, Sebelius was a top contender for vice president in Obama’s White House bid and was one of the co-chairs of the Democratic National Convention. Seen as a Democrat who could reach out to Republicans, Sebelius had been steadily gaining stature in the Democratic Party.

Obama selected U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., in the end, but Sebelius continued playing an important role during the campaign as she criss-crossed the country to make speeches on Obama’s behalf.

After Obama’s victory, Sebelius was mentioned as contender for numerous Cabinet posts, such as heading education, agriculture, labor, environmental protection, health and human services, commerce and transportation.

Trouble at home

Meanwhile in Kansas, state revenues started to nosedive along with the economic downturn. Lawmakers will face a $147 million deficit when the 2009 legislative session starts next month and a possible $1 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.

The budget problems have already caused cuts in social services and prompted proposals to roll back recommended increases for public schools and reductions in higher education.

“Given the extraordinary budget challenges facing our state, and my commitment to continuing the progress we’ve made in Kansas, I believe it is important to continue my service as governor of the great state of Kansas — a job that I love and have been honored to hold,” Sebelius said.


News of her decision was met by skepticism by Kansas Republican Party executive director Christian Morgan.

“Surprising, considering the countless days and hours she wasted outside the state on behalf of Obama,” Morgan said. “It seems there is more to this story. Just weeks ago she said she would serve if asked. Has she been asked? If not, why not, considering the time she spent on the campaign trail.”

Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman for Sebelius, declined to comment beyond the governor’s statement.

Burdett Loomis, political science professor at Kansas University, who worked in the Sebelius administration for a year, said he believed Sebelius was being vetted for several jobs in the Obama administration.

He said Sebelius probably took herself out of consideration because the right Cabinet position wasn’t in play, and she didn’t want to leave the state amid the financial crisis.

“Sometimes, you need to take people at their word,” Loomis said. “We are in a really tough crisis, and the governor has gone through six budget cycles, and budget director (Duane Goossen) has gone through nine. If anyone can get the job done, it’s Kathleen.”


If Sebelius had left, it would have elevated Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson to the governor’s job, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman whom she recruited to the Democratic Party.

Sebelius’ decision also opens up speculation about her intentions for 2010. She is term-limited as governor, but Democrats would like to see her run for Senate for the seat that is expected to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, has indicated he plans to run for the seat, and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, has said he is considering it.

State Republican Party official Morgan said a Sebelius campaign for Senate would be a “fruitless venture.”

Loomis said he didn’t know whether Sebelius would run for the Senate. He said she may end up working in the Obama administration after all. “There are always Cabinet shakeups. This wasn’t the last bus leaving the station by a long shot for Kathleen Sebelius,” he said.

— Statehouse writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-354-4222 or 785-423-0668.


jmadison 9 years, 4 months ago

Please reconsider Governor, the United States as a whole needs your unique skills.

shorttrees 9 years, 4 months ago

She found out that she wasn't going to get picked for anything and decided to make it look good by withdrawing beforehand.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 4 months ago

Could it be she knew she wasn't getting a position so she decided to save face and drop out.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 4 months ago

Wow, shorttrees I think you are on the mark with that one!

Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

I do agree with you shorttrees. But I have said over and over, why take a low level Cabinet job when your a favorite to win a Senate seat. Does not mean she will win, but she will have more then enough money, and even Obama will show up a couple of times for her.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, Mr_Nancy_Boy_to_You - I think your own words sum up a lot of what you have to say - " I guess when it comes to liberals and my understanding of them, I am color blind, tone deaf and well, just flat out stupid." Yep, pretty much sums it up, but I don't think it just applies to liberals.

laffn 9 years, 4 months ago

The financial problems she cites are a result of her leadership.

Boeing 9 years, 4 months ago

I sure was hoping he would get her the heck out of Kansas. Come on, Barack, you know you want her! Please?

auturgy 9 years, 4 months ago

"laffn (Anonymous) says… The financial problems she cites are a result of her leadership."Just as the national budget problems are the result of our President's leadership? Your words cut both ways and aren't ultimately productive.

auturgy 9 years, 4 months ago

"Boeing (Anonymous) says… I sure was hoping he would get her the heck out of Kansas. Come on, Barack, you know you want her! Please?"I know it's a matter of semantics, but if you read the article, I think the tone really indicates that she is wanted in Washington, but she wants to stay here. Essentially, Barack wants her, but Kansas needs her more.

thebigspoon 9 years, 4 months ago

If she goes to Washington her son would have to move his internet business! Now, we can'thave that. Kansas needs her? For what!

igby 9 years, 4 months ago

It was the "Don't Drop the Soap game" that did her in.I don't think Obama bought it.

humblecommentator 9 years, 4 months ago

It is unlikely that she did this for Kansas. She is a PR Governor with no accomplishments. The Lieutenant Governor is more accomplished and could do more for Kansas.It is very likely she did this for herself. She wants to run for the Senate. Or she didnt get what she wants in Washington and has sour grapes. Or some other personal financial reason.I think people are getting tired of Kathleen.

Robert Marble 9 years, 4 months ago

hahaha yeah right....since when has any politician put their duty before their career advancement goals?

laffn 9 years, 4 months ago

Auturgy- Sure, why not. But the article was about her not the POTUS. Do you really believe that she turned down the good of the country for the state? Was she ever really offered anything? I call bulldung.

yankeelady 9 years, 4 months ago

It is definitely our gain. Especially since the legislature is going to continue to try to force the coal plants in and do nothing for healthcare.

BigPrune 9 years, 4 months ago

I guess he didn't want her after all, and now she is doing a pre-emptive save of face. She might be scorned a little since she went all over kingdom come to get him the woman vote and he will not repay her in kind.Unfortunately, we don't need her either but we are stuck.

Mixolydian 9 years, 4 months ago

Riiiiiiiiigghhhhhhtttt, you don't want to be in an Obama cabinet and would prefer to stay here.winkIs she actually implying though that Parkinson couldn't handle the fiscal situation Kansas is facing if she leaves?

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 9 years, 4 months ago

Obama is a lot smarter than people give him credit for. Sebelius long ago sold out real Democrats for her Republicrat pals. Finally, what went around came around and Obama sent Governor Roundheels packing.Yeah, we need her to solve the budget crisis. Please, how dumb does she think we are?

situveux1 9 years, 4 months ago

Solve the budget crisis? She's the one that have proposed budget after budget that spend more than we take in. She's the one that approved budget after budget that was more than a 5% increase over the previous year.Fix the budget crisis. Please. You can't fix something you broke in the first place. It took her a while, but she finally figured out Obama had no intention to putting her in a cabinet position. For a smart politician, you'd think she could think up a better excuse.

labmonkey 9 years, 4 months ago

She will be gone in two years thank God. I hope Republicans dont shoot ourselves in the foot this time by nominating a conservative wack-job because Kansans for Life performs a hatchet job on the moderate candidate like they did with Knight in 2002...allowing her to get elected in the first place. And now I will have to vote for another conservative wack-job in Brownback if she runs against him. Just go back to Ohio, Kathy....noone needs you.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 9 years, 4 months ago

Sorry Defender, Roundheels has been an opportunist and a climber her entire political career. She has never concerned herself with anything but political expediency. When the money was right she supported the coal plants, but when she found out it was hurting her shot at the national level she switched gears and became Ms. Environmental.She's also ruled the party with such an iron fist trying to promote all of the goals her Missouri and Republicrat patrons have paid for that she's alienated many real Democrats.Long story short, I'm torn. I'd like to be rid of her, but I don't want her to embarrass us in DC the way she has here in Kansas.

KS 9 years, 4 months ago

Hey, she is from fly over country. We don't count out here. Frankly, I don't think she stands a chance of getting a US Senate seat from Kansas. She got to be Governor due to the R's putting up the ultra right guy. To many Kansans a vote for her was simply a vote against the other candidate. Put up a decent R and she's gone. Can't happen soon enough. Further, there is no way in H that she can fix the Kansas economy. That problem is bigger than all of us, including the good ole USA. I'm not so sure that BO can do it either. In his defense, he inherited this problem but his friends (D's) in the House and Senate didn't do him any favors when they kept telling us that Fannie and Freddie were okay! What? Those guys should go to jail with OJ.

tunahelper 9 years, 4 months ago

she wasn't getting a cabinet post anyway. omaba wants real screwups, not amateur screwups like kathybaby.I thought for sure we were gonna get rid of her and her cronies.she'll screw Kansas up for sure.

thebigspoon 9 years, 4 months ago

So now that we need jobs and development in Kansas, how bout letting those power plants be built Kathy.

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