Rumors began flying Wednesday morning that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was weighing a run for Senate in her home state of Kansas.
If a recent poll is any indication, she would be the underdog.
Sebelius, who revealed last week she’d step down as the Obama administration’s health chief, has won statewide office four times in deeply conservative Kansas, elected insurance commissioner in 1994 and reelected in 1998, then elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006 with with 58 percent of the vote. But the political landscape has since changed: a big problem for her could be Obamacare, which is very unpopular in Kansas and synonymous with Sebelius, who has led its implementation.
The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling happened to survey the prospect of a Sebelius run against Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) in February 2014. It doesn’t look good for her, but the 17-year Republican incumbent has vulnerabilities.
In the poll, 38 percent of Kansans said they have a favorable opinion of Sebelius, while 55 percent said the opinion was unfavorable. Eight percent weren’t sure.
In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, Roberts received 52 percent, and Sebelius got 38 percent. Ten percent weren’t sure.
She’s also polling behind tea party candidate Milton Wolf — who recently got into trouble for “joking around” by posting X-rays of deceased patients online — by a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent.
The glimmer of hope for Sebelius is that Roberts’ popularity has dipped by 12 points in the last year, per PPP, and he appears less than safe. Just 29 percent of Kansans approve of Roberts while 38 percent disapprove; a whopping 32 percent aren’t sure.
But as PPP director Tom Jensen points out, “Roberts doesn’t appear to be at too much risk of losing his seat to a Democrat,” although he may have a GOP primary battle on his hands.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wouldn’t weigh in.
Asked to comment on the possibility of a Sebelius run, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring emailed simply, “LOL.”