A certain faction of young progressive bloggers is fond of the notion of Barack Obama picking Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his running mate. She is a successful, popular, progressive governor in a red state, and has shown a real talent for bringing people together to produce practical results. That would compliment Obama’s core message. (Then again, she’s a woman, and if this race has demonstrated anything, it’s that misogyny is alive and well in America.)

What fascinates me about Sebelius is that, unlike almost any other U.S. politician, she is taking the coal industry on directly by blocking coal plants on the basis of their CO2 emissions. For her efforts, she has been attacked viciously by a coal astroturf group (and today DeSmog brings news that coal has started yet another astroturf group in the state). The case was immediately pushed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

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She’s going to be under withering assault for a long while, by a well-funded coal PR effort that attempts to use culture war tropes against her, portraying her as a liberal elitist that don’t care about workin’ folk. This is going to be a serious test of her fortitude and political savvy. If she holds up well, it would show a toughness that compliments her ecumenical appeal — and would boost her VP bona fides, at least in my eyes.

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