Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is walking a political tightrope these days trying to pay attention to her duties and responsibilities as Kansas governor and, at the same time, maintain a high, positive profile among the nation's senior Democratic leaders.
She has been a strong and early supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. She is bound to be pleased by the numerous news stories that suggest she might be high on the list of possible vice presidential running mates - or Cabinet appointees, if Obama is elected president.
It would be difficult for Sebelius to wear blinders and not pay attention to those who suggest she is Democratic national leadership material.
At the same time, she is supposed to be taking care of the affairs of Kansas and its residents and do what she can to help make Kansas an even better state.
She knows, however, that actions and decisions she makes in Kansas could strengthen or weaken her in the eyes of those who call the shots in the national Democratic Party or in the eyes of Obama, the likely Democratic nominee, when choosing a running mate or, if he is elected, making Cabinet appointments.
This being the case, some may question whether Sebelius' vetoes of three bills that would have allowed construction of a large coal-fired power plant in western Kansas were based on what is best for Kansas, the state's economy and particularly the economy of western Kansas. Or would the vetoes put her in a stronger position nationally because she would be seen as placing top concern on the environment rather than caving into the wishes of a relatively small number of Kansans?
Was it more important, in her eyes, to please national Democratic bigwigs than to sign the bill that would help the economy of Kansas?
On the flip side, consider what Sebelius might have gained by OK'ing construction of the nation's cleanest coal-fired power plant, a plant other states could use as a model to lessen contamination of our environment.
The fact is, coal will be used to supply the vast percentage of this nation's energy for years to come, so why not have Kansas be a leader that other states could follow in designing and building very special coal-fired power plants?
The answer to this question probably depends on the political leanings of those passing judgment.
Another recent action by the governor was to veto legislation that would require voters to show a photo identification to participate in Kansas elections.
Did she do this to please those who are considering who would be the best running mate for Obama or who might be a strong Cabinet appointee? Did she really think there is no need to worry about election fraud in Kansas and, therefore, no need to make sure those lining up to vote in Kansas are, indeed, all eligible, legal voters?
Again, the answer to this question probably depends on personal political affiliations.
Sebelius has attracted attention by being a Democratic governor in a traditionally Republican state. She is an attractive, able speaker, and she has enjoyed reasonable success in the state. She also was given a big national boost and attention when the Democratic Party selected her to give the party's response to President Bush's State of the Union Address this year.
She is a tough, talented politician who can and does play hard ball. However, much of her success in Kansas is due to the severe split between moderate and more conservative elements within the Republican Party. Kansas Republicans cannot get their act together.
Time will tell whether Sebelius has played her political cards right. Obviously, the first indication will be if Obama wins the Democratic nomination and selects Sebelius as his running mate. If not that, the next question is whether Sebelius would be given a Cabinet position if a Democrat is elected president.
Sebelius' political future has been widely discussed and analyzed. Current speculation focuses on her chances to be on the Democratic presidential ticket or a Cabinet appointee or whether she would choose to run for the U.S. Senate or seek some other high elective or appointive office after she completes her term as governor.
It is hoped she will devote most of her attention and energy to helping make Kansas a better state in which to live, work and play. That way, Kansas wins - and Sebelius' stature within the national Democratic Party is sure to rise.