Gov. Parkinson prepared for the major challenges

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson will step up to the top job when Gov. Kathleen Sebelius resigns to accept President Barack Obama’s appointment as secretary of Health and Human Services.
Parkinson will be welcomed by the leaders of both parties in the Legislature. He was an up-and-coming Republican legislator who rose to state Republican chairman before he switched parties in 2006 to run on the Democratic ticket with Sebelius. He is remembered as an energetic, super-smart, articulate moderate who worked well with Republicans and Democrats alike. Those who watch state politics assumed he would become governor or be elected to Congress.
Gov. Sebelius gave him high-profile assignments. He has headed a task force studying the best ways to spend the stimulus money (and probably contributed substantially to crafting the new budget proposals sent to lawmakers last week), and is the administration’s energy expert.
Before Gov. Sebelius became a top candidate for appointment to the president’s cabinet, Park-inson had said he wanted to return to private business and would not run for governor.
Being governor for a year may change his mind. In the meantime, his apolitical stance will serve him well.
It will be good for Kan-sas, too. As governor he will have to take tough stands on Holcomb’s two coal-fired power plants and on the state’s spending plans. His decisions will come easier and be better received if they are seen as based on the facts and on his well-researched understanding of the issues rather than as stepping stones to election in 2010.

PARKINSON LEFT the Republican Party be-cause it had become dominated by its right wing. He felt more at home in the Sebelius administration, which, by any objective set of criteria, has been governed by pragmatic, center-right principles and goals. The fact that Gov. Sebelius was elected and re-elected in a Republican state is proof that a majority of Kansas voters share the political values held by her and by Parkinson.
Perhaps a majority of Kansans today consider themselves political moderates and will find themselves agreeing with the stances a Gov. Mark Parkinson will take and give him their support. We are living in interesting times. He can use all the help the people can give him.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.