TOPEKA, Kan. - The vice presidential sweeps are in full buzz, and there’s increasing chatter surrounding two rising Democratic stars — Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, two potential running mates who could help expected Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama woo women voters.
Both are well-regarded in national Democratic circles for winning two terms in states that traditionally lean Republican. They’re seen as serious contenders for the No. 2 spot because Democrats worry Obama’s presidential-primary victory has alienated supporters of rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Democrats in Napolitano’s and Sebelius’ states have been chattering about their prospects.
“I have an interest in being governor of Arizona,” Napolitano said Wednesday, speaking to reporters in Phoenix, including Capitol Media Services. “He’ll look, I’m sure, at a number of possibilities. The Democratic bench is a very deep one.”
Napolitano did not answer a question of whether anyone from the Obama campaign has asked her for biographical information that might be used to screen prospective running mates or other appointments.
“All I say there is, as you all know there’s nothing about my career that’s not already public information, including my financial information,’’ she said.
Sebelius, on Wednesday in a statement, acknowledged she’s had regular contacts with Obama’s campaign and the candidate himself.
But she said, “There has been no discussion from the Obama campaign with me or anyone else on my team about serving as vice president.”
Both governors have downsides, including that each would have a tough time drawing her state into the Democrats’ column come November.
Peter Fenn, a Democratic media consultant in Washington, said Obama also would face a natural question from Clinton’s supporters if he considers putting Sebelius, Napolitano or another woman on the ticket: “Why didn’t you take Hillary?”
Obama’s campaign wasn’t dropping any hints about who his running mate.
Clinton said in a conference call with her congressional delegation Tuesday that she is “open to it” if it helps Democrats.
Several former primary rivals also have been mentioned for the vice presidential nomination, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Other possibilities include Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and former Sen. Sam Nunn.
Capitol Media Services contributed to this report.