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Obama-Sebelius '08

June 14, 2008
by Aaron Goldstein

I have reason to believe Barack Obama will pick a woman to be his running mate.  It just won’t be Hillary Clinton. 

Several months ago, I wrote that Obama did not need Hillary.  He does not need her now – unless she has pictures. 

But short of making him an offer he can’t refuse, I believe Barack Obama will select Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be his number two.

I am certainly not the first person to speculate about Sebelius.  According to liberal blogger Ben Smith, former Democratic presidential aspirant Wesley Clark introduced Sebelius as “the next vice president of the United States” during a political fundraiser in Texas earlier this month.  Smith quipped, “A sign of the times from a Clinton loyalist.”   

You might recall that it was Sebelius who delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s last State of the Union Address in January.  The following day Sebelius formally endorsed Obama helping him to win the Kansas Democratic Caucus on Super Tuesday.

There are several reasons for Obama to tab Sebelius.

First, there is no question there is an element of feminists within the Democratic Party that are furious that Hillary did not win and threatening to vote for McCain or sit it out altogether.  Picking Sebelius would go a long way in mollifying them.  Sure, they would rather he pick Hillary.  But if Obama wins in November, he automatically establishes Sebelius as a viable future Presidential candidate in 2016. 

Second, Sebelius is a two term Democratic Governor in a state that is overwhelmingly Republican.  How did she pull that off?  She did so by balancing the budget without raising taxes.  That takes some doing.  Sebelius brings credible credentials to the table but wouldn’t overwhelm Obama in the way Hillary Clinton would.  Sebelius would not have won two terms in office if she hadn’t accomplished something and didn’t present herself as a centrist.  Although one might wonder if Obama and Sebelius could resist the temptation of campaigning in Liberal, Kansas? But if Sebelius can win over moderate and conservative voters in Kansas, particularly of the blue collar variety, imagine how she could help Obama in other states. 

Third, one such state is Ohio.  Sebelius’ father, Jack Gilligan, was Ohio’s Governor from 1971 to 1975.  They are the first father-daughter combination to be elected as state governors.  Last year, Gilligan retired from politics after serving nine years on Cincinnati’s Board of Education.  The 87-year-old Gilligan still has political clout.  Both Sebelius and her father could persuade Cincinnati’s GOP voters to pull a lever for Obama.  That alone could clinch Obama the White House.

Finally, Obama’s late mother, Ann Dunham, was born and raised in Kansas.  Obama has a sentimental reason to pick Sebelius. 

Sebelius is by no means the only person Obama is considering.  New Mexico Governor and onetime Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson, Virginia Senator Jim Webb, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and even Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel have been mentioned as potential running mates.

But selecting Sebelius would demonstrate tremendous political savvy on Obama’s part. 
He would pick a fiscally responsible Democrat who could appeal to Republican voters in tough economic times while at the same time clipping Hillary Clinton’s wings.  An Obama-Sebelius ticket would be very formidable indeed. 

 Aaron Goldstein writes about the things that pique his insatiable curiosity.  In addition to politics, he is an aficionado of baseball, poetry, music and ketchup flavored potato chips.  Aaron satiates his various appetites in Boston. 


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