Rumors have recently swirled that former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might run for Senate in Kansas. Republican Senator Pat Roberts, assuming he survives a primary challenge, faces minimal opposition in the general. With some help, Sebelius could give him opposition. Or at least give the race a little wow factor.
Of course this ignores a number of key facts. First, Sebelius is not the moderate former Governor of the state. She is the former head of the botched rollout of a still unpopular law. In other words, she was the right-hand woman for a President who had the government almost take over a full 1/6th of the economy.
Second, Sebeliu’s tenure as HHS has touched virtually every controversial facet of people’s lives. You name it and she has been involved. Deciding whether kids get certain treatments to live or die? Yep. Allowing 13 year olds to have access to the morning after pill? You betcha. Though to be fair a judge ruled so and she just did not appeal the decision. Don’t count on that to matter to her opponents. I will spare listing off the other one hundred and ten controversial acts she has overseen.
Third, this is Kansas. Democrats are so confused by the state they wrote a book about it. Okay, I kid, but more seriously over at 538, Harry Enten has some startling numbers for Democrats. “Look at the history of voting in the state. The last time a Democrat was elected to the Senate from Kansas was 1932. That’s not only the longest drought for the party, it’s by far the longest winless streak. (The next longest drought for Democrats is in Wyoming, where they haven’t won a Senate seat since 1970.) Democrats have lost 29 consecutive Senate races in Kansas, and they just don’t win federal statewide races. Since 1940, Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, was the only Democratic presidential nominee to win in the Sunflower State.”
Furthermore, consider that Obama’s approval was 35% in the state according to Gallup in 2013. A recent poll conducted by PPP found her trailing Roberts 52%-38% and Roberts little known primary challenger, Milton Wolf, leads her by seven. Despite Roberts being underwater in approval he still crushes her.
Democrats seem to remain confident if she ran she could overcome these obstacles. This despite the fact we live in an era of divided government and state voting for President increasingly predicting their Senatorial votes. Sebelius would likely have to outrun the President’s approval by at least 15% and no successful red state Democrats have been able to do that in 2010 and 2012.
If not for the reasons listed above than for one other unnoticed factor. She infuriates the GOP base only slightly less than Obama does. She is the face of a law they have opposed for five years running and has tread on some of their most sacred values. If I were Sebelius I would think about getting another job in DC instead of running headlong into an electoral nightmare.