Secretary Sebelius?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS?…. Sounds good to me.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was near the top of President Barack Obama’s list of candidates to head the Health and Human Services Department, a senior administration official said Saturday.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private administration deliberations, said no decision was imminent and that other candidates remain in the mix. But the official added the former Kansas insurance commissioner was rising as Obama considers prospective candidates, in no small part on the strength of her close relationship with the president. […]

Advocacy groups like the consumer watchdog role 60-year-old Sebelius played as insurance commissioner for eight years before she became governor.

Yes, and those same advocacy groups are really opposed to Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) getting the job, and he’s reportedly under consideration.

Sebelius, however, would enjoy broad support. She’s been publicly reluctant about leaving Kansas for the cabinet, but Jonathan Cohn recently noted she has “both the right experience and the right instincts,” and while Sebelius may like where she is, “don’t be so sure she’d turn this one down, given its key role in passing, and then implementing, what might be the signature domestic policy measure of this administration and perhaps this generation.” Cohn added:

People marvel about [Sebelius’] managerial abilities and there’s no question about having the relevant experience. She was the state insurance commissioner before she became governor; over the years, she’s fought to stamp out fraudulent carriers, block dangerous industry mergers, and overcome lawmakers opposed to expansions of government health insurance for kids. She’s well-known and well-liked by the health care advocacy community. And while she’s not steeped in the ways of Washington, she’d have plenty of advisors to help — not to mention a strong relationship with Obama, based in part on her bipartisan touch.

If she’s the frontrunner to replace Daschle, that’s a good thing.

Post Script: By the way, Newt Gingrich, despite having been promoted by CQ for the job, isn’t interested.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.