New Kansas Governor Is Party Switcher

Mark Parkinson, who turned Dem to run with Sebelius, sworn in
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2009 6:47 AM CDT
New Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, left, stands with his wife Stacy during a ceremony at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Parkinson took the oath of office during the ceremony.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – With Kathleen Sebelius now confirmed as the country's new health and human services secretary, Kansas has a new governor: Mark Parkinson, a Republican-turned-Democrat who will serve out her term until the end of next year. At a hastily assembled inauguration ceremony Parkinson pledged to alleviate "the real pain that Kansans have suffered" from the economic crisis, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Parkinson was chairman of the state's Republican Party until 2006, when Sebelius convinced him to switch parties and run on her ticket as lieutenant governor. In the past he has said he would not seek a full term as governor, a pledge that Kansans say may free him to speak some uncomfortable truths. "It's a great opportunity for the state of Kansas," said the secretary of state, a Republican.