Just days after she announced her resignation as secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius is said to be considering a bid for the U.S. Senate.
Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas, is reportedly considering challenging Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a longtime colleague who accused her of “gross incompetence” and called for her resignation during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported that several Democrats have floated Sebelius’ name recently as someone who could wage a serious campaign against the 77-year-old Republican senator.
Roberts, who will be running for his fourth term, is considered a “vulnerable” Senate candidate many circles.
While Sebelius, one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act, is said to have given the idea of running for Senate some thought, she’s called it “too soon” to say whether she’ll go through with it, the Times reported.
Prior to her sudden departure from HHS, Sebelius, 65, endured an enormous amount of criticism from lawmakers eager to understand how her agency managed to botch the Obamacare rollout so badly.
Even President Barack Obama criticized Sebelius, at one point accusing her agency of failing to provide the White House with sufficient information regarding the functionality of the healthcare.gov website prior to its launch.
The White House maintains that Sebelius resigned of her own volition and was not forced out.
“What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said.
But even if the initial Obamacare rollout didn’t tarnish Sebelius’ reputation as an effective and competent executive, she’d likely have a tough time winning election in Kansas, a state where Democrats have not held a Senate seat since 1939.
And considering that Obama only won 38 percent of the vote in the state in 2012, and that Sebelius’ name is permanently linked to Obamacare, it seems unlikely that she’d have an easy go of unseating Roberts.
Still, Sebelius’ family has a long history with the state, the Times reported, and she was a popular twice-elected governor. If anything, a Sebelius run would force Republicans to spend money where they had not planned to.
Before stepping down from HHS, she told the Times that she hoped her exit would mark the beginning of a new era of bipartisan cooperation in Washington, D.C.
“If I could take something along with me,” she said, it would be “all the animosity. If that could just leave with me, and we could get to a new chapter, that would be terrific.”
Sebelius has until June 2 to decide if she wants to run for the U.S. Senate.
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