LJWorld.com weblogs Elections 2014
Sebelius said to be weighing U.S. Senate bid
A report today by the New York Times suggesting that Democrat Kathleen Sebelius might run for the U.S. Senate against her old friend Republican Pat Roberts has been raising eyebrows in Kansas political circles, especially among Republicans who seem to relish the thought.
"We will pay her bus fare," the Kansas Republican Party posted on its website.
But Kansas Democrats say there is nothing to the story, as far as they know.
"Our focus has been and will continue to be electing our great candidates who are working to restore Kansas," party spokesman Dakota Loomis said in an email. "We have heard nothing that would support this tabloid speculation."
Chad Taylor, the Shawnee County District Attorney, has already filed for the Democratic nomination in that race.
The Times story quotes a number of unnamed Democrats who say she has been encouraged to run for the Senate seat and that she's weighing the option.
Sebelius was a popular governor in Kansas from 2003 until 2009 when she left to become secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration. There, she became the public face of the president's health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, or more commonly as Obamacare.
Opposition to that program helped give rise to the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party, which used the issue to regain control of the U.S. House in 2010. The program came under even harsher attack last fall amid the botched initial rollout of the new federal health exchange website.
Although the website was eventually fixed and the administration met its goal of enrolling more than 7 million people through the exchanges by the March 31 signup deadline, Sebelius was held personally responsible for the website problems, and she resigned her post April 10.
Roberts, who cut his political teeth in the 1960s working on the staff of Sebelius' father-in-law, former Rep. Keith Sebelius, publicly supported Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to the HHS post in 2009. But he made an about-face last October and publicly called on her to resign amid the troubled rollout of the website.
Meanwhile, Roberts is already being challenged from within by Tea Party-backed candidate Milton Wolf, who has made hay out of the fact that Roberts voted to confirm Sebelius to the Cabinet post.
Wolf posted a picture on his Twitter account today of Roberts and Sebelius together, commenting that the surest way for Republicans to lose the election to Sebelius would be to "Nominate the guy who voted for her ... twice."