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Kathleen Sebelius

Campaign Profiles: Key Speakers at the Democratic National Convention: Tuesday

August 26, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
FindingDulcinea profiles Tuesday's speakers at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, including Kathleen Sebelius, Lilly Ledbetter, Mark Werner and Deval Patrick.

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius is the second woman to serve as governor of Kansas. Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, she is the daughter of former Ohio governor John Gilligan (1971-1975). According to the governor’s Web site, Sebelius’s biggest commitments are Kansas business and public education, as well as “quality, affordable health care” and renewable energy. She serves on the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association and is a past chair of the Education Commission of the States and the Democratic Governors Association. She is currently co-chair of the NGA’s Securing a Clean Energy Future initiative. In early 2008, she delivered the Democrats’ response to the president’s State of the Union address.
Often described as a moderate, Sebelius was called a “rising star of the Democratic party” by Robert Novak in May, as well as a potential vice-presidential contender and a “poster child” of pro-choice in Kansas, a nexus of the U.S. abortion debate.

At the DNC, Sebelius will likely discuss the social and economic issues she is most passionate about, which may include abortion rights.

Lilly Ledbetter

Lilly Ledbetter had been working at a Goodyear Tire plant in Alabama for nearly two decades when an anonymous note left in her mailbox indicated that three male employees in the same position were being paid more than she. Headed to court with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, Ledbetter’s case was struck down by a 5–4 ruling of the Supreme Court that EEOC complaints had to be made in the first 180 days of salary negotiations.

This year, as the American Prospect noted in an interview with Ledbetter, “congressional Democrats pledged to pass legislation that would give employees two years to file a complaint, in accordance with the [the Civil Rights Act of 1964]” as it stood before the Supreme Court made its decision.

Both Sens. Obama and Clinton came out in support of that bill, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007.

Ledbetter’s speech at the DNC will serve to spotlight this issue and Obama’s support of the legislation.

Mark Warner

An early favorite for both president and VP, Virginia’s former governor Mark Warner sidestepped calls to pursue either position, in favor of a bid for the Senate

A moderate Democrat, Warner would succeed Republican John Warner (no relation) and join fellow party member Jim Webb as the state’s senators.
Born in Indianapolis, Warner was the first member of his family to graduate from college, earning a degree from George Washington University in 1977, followed by a law degree from Harvard.

Using the telecommunications experience garnered as a congressional aide to Sen. Chris Dodd, Warner co-founded the company that would become Nextel, earning him a fortune that he would use to run for the governor’s office in 2001.

Since taking office, Warner has stressed a bipartisan approach to government, creating the Forward Together PAC to support legislative work across party lines.

Although Warner’s administration was popular in Virginia, earning the state the title of one of the nation’s “best managed states,” state law prohibited Warner from running for a consecutive gubernatorial term after he left office in 2006.

Warner will deliver the convention’s keynote address; Democrats presumably hope the speech will rally the highly coveted Southern vote to the Obama campaign.

Deval Patrick

The first African-American governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick entered the national spotlight in 2006, succeeding Mitt Romney with a sizable majority in a four-way state race.

Born on the south side of Chicago in 1959, Patrick left the Midwest early, attending a program for academically gifted African-American students that landed him at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts.

After attending Harvard for both an undergraduate and law degree, with a year-long break to work for the United Nations, Patrick worked to defend civil rights at the NAACP and as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Defense under President Clinton.

Before running for governor in 2006, Patrick spent several years as counsel for such corporations as Coca-Cola, Ameriquest and Texaco—employment that would later earn him criticism from the progressive wing of his party.

Elected to office in 2006, Patrick has been a notable and popular governor whose legislative record spans the political spectrum.

An early and active supporter of Barack Obama, Patrick became campaign fodder during the primaries when it was alleged that Obama had included sections of a 2006 Patrick speech in a series of public appearances in Wisconsin. 

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