Nothing’s Wrong With Kansas

Posted January 15, 2008 at 6:22pm

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been tapped to deliver the Democrats’ official response to President Bush’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Democratic leaders announced Tuesday.

[IMGCAP(1)]In her second term, Sebelius is one of the Democrats’ more popular and prominent female governors. She also represents a conservative-leaning state that favored Bush over Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) by a 62 percent to 37 percent margin in 2004.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made the announcement.

“Gov. Sebelius is a forward-thinking, solutions-oriented Democratic leader, who has worked in a bipartisan way to create jobs, grow the economy, make historic investments in education, and make college more affordable,” Pelosi and Reid said in a statement.

Sebelius is the second red-state governor in three years to deliver the Democratic Party’s State of the Union response. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine gave the speech in 2006, while a fellow Virginian, Sen. Jim Webb, delivered the party’s remarks in 2007.

In selecting Sebelius, Democrats are clearly hoping to highlight their party’s diversity in a year in which a woman and a black man are seeking their party’s presidential nomination. It also shows Democrats’ interest in recapturing the political advantage in states the GOP has dominated in recent years.

Beyond that, Democratic leaders may have wanted to pick a prominent party official who has not yet endorsed anyone in the 2008 presidential contest. Kansas will be part of the Super Tuesday primary on Feb. 5.

Sebelius also has been mentioned as a future Senate candidate. Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback already has announced he will not seek another term in 2010, leaving open that possibility for Sebelius, who is prevented from seeking a third term as governor.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of Texas will deliver the Spanish-language response for the Democrats. Van de Putte is the immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ryan’s Returns. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the sometimes struggling result of a merger between the Bond Market Association and the Securities Industry Association, is expected to announce today its choice for a new chief executive.

K Street sources said that SIFMA has tapped JPMorgan Chase’s Tim Ryan, who last year was nominated by President Bush to be undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department. Ryan later withdrew his name.

Three SIFMA representatives did not return e-mails or calls seeking comment, and a call to Ryan’s office was not returned. But sources familiar with the group said that along with Ryan, the finalists had included another JPMorgan official, former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.), as well as Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.), who announced Tuesday he will run the Managed Funds Association.

— Erin P. Billings and Kate Ackley