Sebelius, Hurt by Accusations, May Challenge Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 04:53 PM

By Joe Battaglia and Greg Richter

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Having resigned from her Cabinet post, embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could be plotting a run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas as revenge against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

Sebelius was deeply hurt when Roberts, a longtime friend of the family, accused her of "gross incompetence" and called for her resignation over the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, according to a report in The New York Times.

As a way to even the score, Democrats in the state are goading Sebelius into opposing the 77-year-old Roberts, who is running for a fourth term but is facing a dip in approval ratings and a challenge from tea party candidate Milton Wolf in the August primary.

However, the chances of an upset of Roberts by the loose-cannon Wolf seem slim, considering how he raised the ire of mainstream Republicans when Wolf, a radiologist, posted gruesome x-rays of gunshot victims on Facebook and compared his cousin to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini on Twitter. Roberts leads Wolf in the latest polls.

Story continues below video.



The Hill Managing Editor Bob Cusack doesn't believe reports that Sebelius would be motivated by revenge against her old friend, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Roberts called for Sebelius to resign after the botched Obamacare rollout.

Instead, Cusack told Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Sebelius might be trying to protect herself.

"She knows where the bodies are buried," Cusack said. "The White House may be a little bit nervous about what she knows." Sebelius might be thinking more about putting distance between herself and the White House by running for office in a red state, even if she knows she can't win, he said.

Cusack noted the chilly hug President Barack Obama gave Sebelius during the ceremony where she announced her resignation.

"That was no hug like the one we saw between President Obama and [Former Florida Gov.] Charlie Crist a few years ago on the stimulus. That was a bit icy," he said.

Still, Cusack said, "It's hard to see her running. She's a campaign operative's dream. This was a historically bad, botched rollout."

Such a run would be a huge race that the national media would be paying a lot of attention to just when Democrats want the focus off of Obamacare and onto the economy and minimum wage, he said.



Despite her ties to the bungled initial stages of Obamacare and to the president, who carried just 38 percent of the state in the 2012 election and has seen his popularity nosedive since, Democrats believe Sebelius could beat Roberts and give them their first Senate seat since 1939.

According to the Times, Sebelius was a popular, twice-elected governor in Kansas, re-elected in 2006 with 58 percent of the vote, and her family has a long history in the state. But even if she doesn't win, her presence in the race would force Republicans to have to spend money to fight her off, something they have rarely had to do in Kansas.

The Times went on to suggest that friends and Democratic confidantes of Sebelius doubt that she would want to mount a campaign against Roberts, given the tumultuous nature of her last six months as Obama's HHS secretary, during which she has been mocked by Republicans and made the scapegoat for the Affordable Care Act's problems on Capitol Hill.

Sebelius, who has indicated she would stay on in her present capacity for a while longer, has until June 2 to decide whether she wants to enter the Senate primary in Kansas.

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