Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has a great website and accompanying email newsletter. In its own words: “Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball features analyses of presidential elections, Senate, House and gubernatorial races.” Here’s what he has to say about the gubernatorial race in Kansas next year:
KANSAS — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), to be succeeded shortly by Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson (D-KS): PROBABLE OPEN SEAT. This contest is in flux on the Democratic side, which in this case helps the GOP. Two-term Governor Sebelius has been popular but had to retire after she reached the two-term limit in 2010. She might have run for the Senate seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R)–who is leaving to run for Governor. But Sebelius recently accepted the nomination of President Obama to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services. As her successor as Governor, Sebelius had wanted to help her lieutenant governor, Mark Parkinson, who switched from the Republican party to run with her as a Democrat in 2006. But Parkinson earlier decided not to run for Governor, leaving state Treasurer Dennis McKinney (D) as the possible nominee. Now Parkinson will become Governor, and he is under renewed pressure to run for the Democrats in 2010. Surprisingly, Parkinson still says he won’t run, and one suspects it is because he knows how difficult it will be for any Democrat to defeat Brownback. Brownback easily won his 1996, 1998, and 2004 contests for Senate, though he has a primary challenge from Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R). The critical unknown is the identity of the new Democratic lieutenant governor, to be appointed by Gov. Parkinson. He or she could end up being the Democratic candidate for Governor in 2010. LEANS REPUBLICAN TURNOVER.