President Obama has settled on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, a key ally with a record of working across party lines, as his top choice for secretary of health and human services, advisers said Wednesday.
Should she be nominated, Ms. Sebelius would bring eight years of experience as her state’s insurance commissioner as well as six years as a governor running a state Medicaid program. But with Mr. Obama about to begin a drive to expand health coverage — an issue on which the parties have deep ideological divisions — her strongest asset in the White House view may be her record of navigating partisan politics as a Democrat in one of the country’s most Republican states.
Ms. Sebelius’s family and her administration have both been notably bipartisan. Her father was a Democratic governor of Ohio and her father-in-law was a longtime Republican member of Congress in Kansas. She won her first term with a Republican businessman as her running mate and a second term with a former Republican state party chairman on her ticket.
She became an early supporter of Mr. Obama’s by endorsing him in January 2007 and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee. After the election, her name was floated for a variety of possible jobs, including secretary of labor, agriculture or education.