So you thought you could put political campaigning behind you at least for a few months?
There’s nothing like the prospect of incumbent-less races for the governor’s office and a U.S. Senate seat to get the political juices flowing — even two years before the election.
Last week’s formal announcement by Sen. Sam Brownback that he would follow through on his pledge to leave office after his current term fueled speculation and even a little activity in the 2010 races for both his Senate seat and the governor’s job.
Within minutes of Brownback’s announcement, U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran declared he was entering the Senate race, for which he already had formed a fundraising committee. U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Wichita also has expressed an interest in the race. An active Republican primary seems to be shaping up. What about the Democrats? More on that later.
It’s widely believed that Brownback is interested in succeeding Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who will leave office after her current term as required by the state’s two-term limit for that job. Give Brownback credit for making good on his pledge to leave his Senate seat rather than renege on that pledge, as many others have done. The timing, however, is ideal for him to make a run at governor’s office. At 52, there’s no reason for him to fade into the background rather than continue his political career.
And what about Sebelius? She’s a highly political animal whose political career probably won’t end when she leaves the governor’s office. Although it seems likely she had an opportunity to play some role in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, she surprised many observers by withdrawing her name from consideration earlier this month. Maybe she was going to be passed over by Obama or didn’t get the appointment she wanted or maybe — more likely — she chose to stay in Kansas to see the state through its current economic challenges and maximize her potential to win Brownback’s Senate seat.
They’re still counting the ballots in Minnesota to determine the winner of the 2008 race for a U.S. Senate seat, but, in Kansas, the 2010 campaign has already begun.