Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that she still hasn’t talked to President Barack Obama about a potential appointment as U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.
Sebelius made the comment after returning to Topeka from a National Governors Association meeting in Washington.
“I saw the president a number of times, but we did not have a specific conversation about HHS,” Sebelius told The Associated Press. “This meeting was really focused on stimulus and the economy.”
In Washington, Sebelius is viewed as a leading contender for Health and Human Services. Her name surfaced earlier this month, almost immediately after Obama’s first choice, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew.
Some advocacy groups have said she’s a strong candidate because, before becoming governor, she served eight years as Kansas’ insurance commissioner and became familiar with health issues.
Asked whether Obama dropped any hints about when he’d make the appointment, Sebelius said, “Not hints to me.”
If Sebelius became Health and Human Services secretary, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson would become governor. He has declared himself ready to take over if necessary, but he said Tuesday that he didn’t know anything about her potential appointment.
Sebelius, 60, is highly regarded among fellow Democrats nationally for winning two terms as governor in GOP-leaning Kansas. She also endorsed Obama early in last year’s presidential race.
She was a finalist for vice president on his ticket, then was mentioned frequently after the election for Cabinet jobs other than Health and Human Services.
She withdrew from consideration in December, saying she had to concentrate on Kansas’ budget problems. But that was well before Daschle dropped out over questions about not fully paying his taxes in recent years.