Commentary: Sebelius' political ascent is part luck

Whoever said luck didn't play a role in politics?

Kathleen Sebelius sure never did.

It's a theme I've hit on before with the governor, because it's so central to where she is today. Good fortune redefined her.

It's playing a major role again as she has emerged as a finalist for one of the premier Cabinet jobs in any presidential administration – secretary of health and human services.

Chances are more than just good that her current title of Kansas governor never would have happened if it hadn't been for a guy named Fletcher Bell and "The Unbelievable Briefcase Caper."

Bell, a former state insurance commissioner, received statewide and national attention for the $94,000 award he received in 1991 for injuring his back while lifting – get this – a briefcase out of his car trunk.

When news of the award became public in 1993, it created a furor.

It also created a political pothole the size of the Sprint Center for Bell's Republican successor as insurance commissioner, Ron Todd. He had nothing to do with Briefcase Caper, but the issue proved to be potent for Todd's re-election challenger, a state legislator from Topeka named Kathleen Sebelius.

To read the complete column, visit www.kansascity.com.