Archive for Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kansas officials react to Sebelius’ departure

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius enters the House chamber as she prepares to deliver her State of the State address on Jan. 12.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius enters the House chamber as she prepares to deliver her State of the State address on Jan. 12.

February 28, 2009


Kathleen Sebelius: Two decades in politics

Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ departure for Washington will shake up the Kansas political scene like it hasn’t been shaken in years.

“This is really putting state politics in a blender,” said Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty.

Several media outlets reported Saturday that President Barack Obama will announce his selection, possibly as early as Monday, of Sebelius for secretary of health and human services.

The exit of Sebelius — a Democrat in her second term as governor — will shuffle the political deck in Topeka, shape the 2010 Kansas election ballot, and most probably weaken the state Democratic Party, which has always faced an uphill struggle in Republican-rich Kansas.

New governor

Almost immediately, it means that Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, the former Kansas Republican Party chairman who switched parties in 2006 to run with Sebelius, will become governor upon Sebelius’ confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Parkinson will face a Republican-dominated Legislature that has loaded up to challenge Sebelius’ opposition to a major coal-burning power plants project, and several budgetary moves.

When news of Sebelius’ departure became known, Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates quickly put out a release voicing support of and confidence in Parkinson, a former state senator.

“Mark Parkinson, as our new governor, will be great for Kansans and great for Democrats. During his two decades in public service, Mark has dedicated himself to working with both parties to craft solutions for the people of this great state,” Gates said.

When Sebelius had taken herself out of Cabinet contention in December, Parkinson had said he would not seek the governor’s job in 2010.

Beatty said now Parkinson, who will be finishing the last two years of Sebelius’ term, needs to reassess that decision.

“There is a big difference in running for governor as governor than running for the job after having been lieutenant governor,” Beatty said.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence agreed, saying that he hoped Parkinson would reconsider his decision not to run. “I believe that he can be elected to that position. If he wants to do that, he would have the luxury of running as an incumbent,” Davis said.

‘Bittersweet’ departure

Leaving for Washington also means Sebelius almost certainly will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican who is running for governor. Many Democrats thought Sebelius had a good shot at winning that Senate seat, which would have been quite a coup for the party.

Beatty said the Kansas Democratic Party will miss Sebelius, who had drawn national attention and served as the leading voice of the party for years. Prior to winning the governor’s position, Sebelius was elected to two four-year terms as state insurance commissioner and had served as a House member in the state Legislature.

“Her leaving is sort of bittersweet for Kansas Democrats. There is going to be a little sadness because she has meant so much to them,” Beatty said.

Davis agreed but added that Parkinson, who has been a leading administration official on energy and several other issues “will hit the ground running.”

“It’s frankly going to be business as usual in the governor’s office,” he said.

Finished business?

Politically, Sebelius had been adept at exploiting the conservative-moderate chasm in the Republican Party, drawing moderates to her side.

But Republicans had been more forceful in their criticism of her in recent months after she became a major supporter of Obama. State GOP officials heaped scorn on the governor when she traveled extensively on Obama’s behalf during the election.

Sebelius had been reported to have been one of the top contenders to become Obama’s running mate, but Obama picked Joe Biden.

Then speculation mounted that Sebelius would be picked to serve in Obama’s cabinet. But as jobs were being handed out, and Sebelius wasn’t picked, she then announced she was taking herself out of contention in order to focus on Kansas’ budget problems.

Then Obama’s first choice for HHS, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, withdrew after disclosing that he had failed to pay $140,000 in taxes.

Meanwhile, Sebelius signed into law a $300 million deficit reduction package that addressed budget problems in the current fiscal year.

On Friday, she issued a budget amendment that she said would draw in $1 billion in federal stimulus funds and balance the next fiscal year’s budget without a tax increase.

But Kansas Republican Executive Director Christian Morgan said Sebelius had been less than truthful in her public positions on serving in the Cabinet.

“The only thing that has changed from when the governor originally ‘withdrew’ her name is the cabinet position being offered,” Morgan said.

And, he said, Sebelius takes a record of failure on health reform in Kansas to the national level. “It’s not reform and is a frightening indication of what is to come,” he said.

Sebelius has often proposed expansion of health care, and she supported several initiatives aimed at that end, including increases in the cigarette tax. But Republicans have thwarted those efforts.

Despite the news reports about her appointment to HHS, Sebelius’ office, as usual, was tight-lipped. “Any such announcement would come from the White House,” said Sebelius spokeswoman Beth Martino.

Asked about Sebelius’ schedule for this week, Martino said she didn’t know.


humblecommentator 9 years, 2 months ago

Once again Giraffe Neck has sacrificed her career for the betterment of Kansas.

63BC 9 years, 2 months ago

Just so we're clear:

This broken promise by Sebelius now rewards the broken promise made by Parkinson.

Anybody else tired of being lied to?

yankeelady 9 years, 2 months ago

The situation has changed. The budget isn't as dire as it was because of the stimulus. Not to mention the fact that the legislature seems to be obstructive for sport. They aren't willing to do anything that isn't 100% their agenda. Healthcare and education come to mind. It seems like all that is ever on the table are social issues and coal plants. She will be missed, but will do a great job in Washington.

TheYetiSpeaks 9 years, 2 months ago

beo- Or, Parkinson is an opportunist who saw a chance to be the Lt. Governor to a Governor who is an opportunist and would bolt the first time a federal position opened up, making him the governor. Yeah...He's all heart that guy.

situveux1 9 years, 2 months ago

Just let me know when you're leaving Kathy and I'll help pack the U-Haul.

labmonkey 9 years, 2 months ago

You mean she isn't Gov.? And she won't run for Senate too? A Great Day for Kansas!!!

Just a little irony making her HHS after she dined with Tiller.

TheOriginalCA 9 years, 2 months ago

And Sebelius is thus rewarded for two years of posturing for her self serving aspiration and to hell with her state. SHe did anything and everything to gain national attention and her Greensburg, KS tornado exploitation and blatant mean spirited abuse of her position was enough to wow the Liberal Establishment. Sebelius deserves Washington and Washington deserves Sebelius.

hornhunter 9 years, 2 months ago

Queen K, are your taxes paid in full ?

james bush 9 years, 2 months ago

She's been nothing but a DNC talking-point governor for a long time.

grimpeur 9 years, 2 months ago

Here's hoping Parkinson can keep O'Neal and his pack of goofs in their place. Wouldn't take long for the bumpkin gang to undo the progress that's been made in this state under Sebelius without a strong and sensible check in the executive office.

Coal and budget nonsense, tax breaks for jeebus freaks, poorly-legislated moralizing. Yankeelady had it right: they're obstructionist (not to mention meddlesome amateurs) for sport.

Amy Stotts 9 years, 2 months ago

definitely bittersweet. i really hoped she would stay and make sure things stabilized and that there would be no possibility of republicans continuing to ruin our state and dismantle our government. but we're kansans...we're used to our favorite people telling us they will stay and then leave...roy williams anyone? and then we got something even better, a few seasons under bill self and a national championship. here's to the next democrat leader who will keep kansas safe and strong!

Strontius 9 years, 2 months ago

"You libs are really pining for a Stalin like figure to make everything better aren't you?"


No, we're pining for an educational system that teaches the difference between authoritarianism and Liberalism.

Seriously, if you're going to insult someone, at least make sense. I know that's a lot to ask of people who drove our country into the ground over the last eight years, but baby steps I suppose.

SeaFox 9 years, 2 months ago

Marion wrties: Say what? And where did the money come from?

Try reading the paragraph immediately after the one you quoted. It might answer your question for you. ;-)

Unless the editors slipped it in after you posted. Sneaky ljworld is sneaky!

lovedogs 9 years, 2 months ago

Strontius, I also agree with you.

We'll miss you in Kansas, Governor Sebelius but will be proud to have you in Washington. Your expertise will be put to good use in this cabinet position. We're in desperate need of health reform in our country!

verity 9 years, 2 months ago

Good point, amy_irenie. I hadn't thought of it that way.

Governor Sebelius has been very good at working across the aisle in Kansas, so I'm sure she will do well in Washington. If anyone can oversee health reform and be tough with the insurance companies, it is her.

AjiDeGallina 9 years, 2 months ago

seafox, we all know the only thing Marion reads is Holocaust denial books.

tunahelper 9 years, 2 months ago

Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead!!!

thank God, we can finally get rid of this idiot!

saligon 9 years, 2 months ago

I can't wait until the right wing 'moonbats' destroy the most precious resource we have in Western Kansas, water and intelligence. You'll be HOWLING for the feds to rescue us. Of course.

Liberals did not destroy our economy and start needless wars abroad. ANSWER TO YOUR CRITICS! America spoke very clearly and loudly on November 4th, 2008.

You should be ashamed but are arrogant and vain to live-up to your many mistakes.

Mike Blur 9 years, 2 months ago

Don't be too giddy, wingnuts.

Fast forward to January 20, 2017. Outgoing Pres. Obama attends the swearing in ceremony of our 45th President, Kathleen G. Sebelius.

Danimal 9 years, 2 months ago

Well, I'm glad that's over. Too bad there are so many people pining for Sebelius on this board. I suppose it's good tha twe had her because it makes our state look a little more progressive, but at the same time she tried to bring some Rust Belt liberal thought to the heartland with horrible consequences.

West_Sider 9 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says…

and a lot smarter than average republican legislator.

Comments like this crack me up.

We are all being played just like a fans of the WWE. We continue to consume this us (Dems) vs them (Reps) storyline. Do you really think these people bicker and argue once the C-SPAN cameras go dark? Hell, no. They're all enjoying the lobbyist funded golf junkets and legistlative education tours of Scotland funded by major pharma companies. As long as we let these pro's (these aren't the amateur farmers/politicians that signed the declaration of independance) continue to suck up warchest funds from the open pocketbooks that prevail in DC, this problem will never get fixed.

Put down your republican or democrat rose colored glasses and look at what has and is continuing to go on here. Voluntary or mandated term limits are the only way that I can see this "show" coming to an end anytime soon. Until then, you can expect more of the same old scripted storyline.

KsTwister 9 years, 2 months ago

Brownback as governor definitely got a laugh from us. Republicans put Kansas in the blender,turned it on and then said,"well that is a mess..but I have no idea how to fix it." Kansas as stupid as you think will then be a great way to sum it up.

yankeevet 9 years, 2 months ago

She's moving on up...........too the sky.......she finally got a piece of the pie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I had her salary; I would be smiling too; lol.............

verity 9 years, 2 months ago

Mike Blur, I was thinking the same thing. In fact, I will make a prediction---Kathleen Sebelius will be our vice-president in 2013.

The haters on this board are definitely not in the majority.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations Gov. Sebelius!!... but who will protect us from the coal mine lobbyists??Who will send the legislature back to work to get our schools the money they need? I will miss you!!!!

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 2 months ago

I could live with an Obama/Sebelius ticket in the next general election.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 2 months ago

Sebelius is a great choice. She will bring much knowledge, experience, and moderation to HHS.

This could be bad for Kansas, though. I hope Parkinson will be able to fend off the assaults by the No-publicans on the progress she has made in the state.

The budget, coal plants, and education all hang in the balance. We shall see.

HermanBubbert 9 years, 2 months ago

So what happens to Budget Director Duane Goossen in the coming reshuffle? Does he go with Sebelius to DC? Does he step in as lieutenant gov?

Godot 9 years, 2 months ago

Questions over the strong arm, secretive tactics employed by Sebelius' KHPA should raise legitimate questions over Sebelius' commitment to transparity and respect for the rule of law:

"Health watchdog cries foul By Tim Carpenter The Capital-Journal Published Sunday, March 01, 2009 The former inspector general of the Kansas Health Policy Authority says agency managers applied pressure to alter an audit report, restricted access to legal advice and threatened to fire her for meeting independently with legislators.

Allegations leveled by attorney Robin Kempf, inspector general of KHPA until November, likely will spur Senate Republicans to press ahead with a bill moving to another area of state government the job of serving as watchdog over Medicaid, MediKan and Children's Health Insurance programs.

Kempf divulged her perspective of internal struggles at KHPA in testimony last week to a Senate committee.

"Very interesting," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood. "What that hearing did accomplish is to virtually assure the inspector general will not remain under the auspices of the KHPA."..........

"Kempf said KHPA officials said she could speak with legislators only if invited on the condition Nielsen was present. Kempf said Ned Holland, KHPA's finance and audit committee chairman, declared she "could be fired" for unauthorized interaction with lawmakers.

Nielsen restricted the inspector general's opportunity to solicit legal advice from KHPA's attorney about management of internal documents, Kempf said.

Kempf said the board examined her first KHPA audit in executive session, a possible violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. She said she was told to amend the report but declined.

"I concluded that I would not be able to meet the legislative intentions for the OIG nor could I uphold the ethical obligations placed on me," Kempf said. "I pursued alternative employment."

Chris Bohling 9 years, 2 months ago

Lol, my post got deleted because I posted about nobody here having any good arguments. Grow up.

disgustedagain 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow-the conservative Neanderthals are out in force today. I'm sorry to see her choose administration over Congress, but not surprised. It's an appropriate career move, but she could have done so much useful work in Congress. Good luck to her and her family in DC.

Now the Neanderthals in the KS legislature will have much more leeway to make monumentally stupid decisions--back to business as usual in KS. It's a sad day for KS.

verity 9 years, 2 months ago

flamingdragon, you always make me laugh.

brandx 9 years, 2 months ago

Well congratulations to B.O. Now at least he'll be close to two women who have done fashion spreads in Vogue

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 2 months ago

Godspeed Governor Sebelius and thank you for being a great governor!

One of the greatest women in the history of our state; what an incredible woman.

I hope someday to read your autobiography and learn how you put up with the dumbest legislature in America.

Derek Neibarger 9 years, 2 months ago

it's a shame to see her go, but Kansas has been a lost cause for as long as I've been alive. we're neck deep in conservative ignorance, despite the fact that the GOP takes Kansas for granted and doesn't even bother to drop by during election season. the coal plants are just the latest in a long line of screw-the-welfare-of-the-citizens-show-me-the-money schemes hatched by Kansas republican lawmakers who know that zero amount of logic or common sense is required to win the support of their amazingly gullible conservative voters. as good as Sebelius has been, it would take a hundred of her to turn this backwards state into anything other than a breeding ground for right wing stupidity and a national embarrassment.

Taxpayer 9 years, 2 months ago

"Giraffe neck" and "Ding-Dong the witch is dead", these are such mean posts for poor Miss Kathy. Can't we all just get along here in Kansas?

james bush 9 years, 2 months ago

Do you suppose??.........she''ll spread her influence as far and wide as Sen Harry Reid and convince him to relinquish a share of the Obama/democratic pork-stimulus ($8+billion for Harry's Las Vegas-Disneyland high-speed rail) to a Kansas-Oklahoma Amtrac rail connection.

james bush 9 years, 2 months ago

Bush>Clinton>Bush>Obama.......It's really difficult "to feel proud of my country in my adult life" under these circumstances.

Terry Jacobsen 9 years, 2 months ago

Farewell KK... no tears will be shed by me...

Mr. Parkinson now will expect that the party he deserted should work with him... they should let him dry on the vine like a raisin in the sun.

Rationalanimal 9 years, 2 months ago

The world's only living heart donor. It is fitting she has been selected by what is shaping up to be the most corrupt and inept presidential administration in our nation's history.

Were it not that she will take her policies of infanticide to a national scale, it could be said good riddance. When the history books are cleansed from the biases of modern media, generations in more rational times will look narrowly upon Sebelius for what she is, a heartless demagogue who willfully refused to protect the defenseless and innocent among us. History will look at her alongside Herod.

scb_94 9 years, 2 months ago

Thank goodness the devil is finally leaving Kansas alone and leaving! Woot! I doubt the next democrat will do much better but heres to sebilious being gone!

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