Archive for Monday, January 21, 2008

Prominent speech

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will be representing Kansas, as well as the nation’s Democrats, when she delivers the response to this year’s State of the Union address.

January 21, 2008


Delivering the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address will give Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius a prominent spot on the national political stage.

The speech will be a huge challenge for the governor but also offers a wonderful opportunity to draw positive attention not only to herself but also to the state of Kansas.

The choice of a Midwestern governor to represent the Democratic Party in this important speech is a little unusual, but it may reflect a desire to find a spokesman outside the Washington Beltway. The two leading Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives already have given State of the Union responses: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2004 and Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2005. In the last five years, two governors - Tim Kaine of Virginia in 2006 and Gov. Gary Locke of Washington in 2003 - have delivered the Democratic response. Last year's response was made by Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

In some ways, Sebelius seems the natural choice for this year's response. She's a Democratic governor who has successfully attracted many Republican voters and worked reasonably well with a Republican Legislature. She just finished a term as chairwoman of the National Democratic Governors Association and is young enough to have some political future ahead of her.

Pondering a political future while serving in elected office can be a tricky proposition. On one hand, it's a compliment for any state to have an elected official who others think might have a place on the national stage. On the other hand, people worry that such an official may be distracted from his or her current duties or may do something that might not reflect well on the state.

Kansans, for instance, seemed to have no reservations about former Sen. Bob Dole's forays into national politics, including a stint as the chairman of the National Republican Party and a run for the vice presidency. Dole chose to step down from the Senate in his last presidential race, but wasn't under any particularly pressure from his Kansas constituents to do so.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., faced a slightly different situation in his bid for the presidency last year. Although he didn't get much pressure to resign his seat, some Kansans were concerned about how many votes he was missing in Washington and also whether his candidacy was a positive reflection on the state.

Sebelius reportedly made sure that she and her Kansas staff would "have control and write" the speech she delivers on Jan. 28. Because this is a key speech for the Democratic Party in a presidential election year, however, the national party undoubtedly will have a hand in what the governor says.

Although she is speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party, Sebelius also will be representing the people of Kansas. We congratulate her and hope that she does us proud.


Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 3 months ago

The last time Kansas had this type of political exposure at the national level (that I can recall) was when Senator Dole delivered the Republican response to President Clinton's State of the Union.

Which, as I recall, was an exceptional response. I trust the Governor will perform at the same level as Sen. Dole.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Face it. Governor Kathleen Sebelius is quite a capable individual.

coldandhot 10 years, 3 months ago

Very disappointing. Kathleen Sebelius is a great marketer and she knows how to sell herself. In five years, she hasn't really accomplished anything. Name one big thing she has done.

Orwell 10 years, 3 months ago

Pretty tough for a governor to pull off major accomplishments when an opposition legislative majority is determined, above all else, to be sure she doesn't get credit for anything - even if it's something the state needs. Zero-sum politics usually results in missed opportunities.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

This story about Sebelius' son's little adult-themed board game business being run out of the Governor's mansion will be good fodder for the commentators after her speech. "Don't drop the soap," has a real ring to it, doesn't it?

not_dolph 10 years, 3 months ago

UhClem....Scott, is that you? are so right.

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