Mark Parkinson says he won't run for Kansas governor

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson told Prime Buzz just minutes ago that he will not run for Kansas governor in 2010.

"I'm out," he said.

Parkinson said he prefers to end his career in the private sector and that he couldn't see himself devoting another four years to public service.

He also said his decision today had nothing to do with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her deliberations over joining President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet. Parkinson said he was ready to become governor had Sebelius left Kansas for Washington.

"It's just two different situations," he said.

Parkinson would have faced formidable odds had he run for governor. As a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, some Democrats were slow to warm to him. And many Republicans see him as a turncoat.

In a sense, he was a man, some said, without a party.

Two prominent Republicans already are running: U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh.

The decision appears to end what many have said was once one of the most promising political careers on the Kansas horizon. Former Gov. Bill Graves came close to naming Parkinson to succeed Bob Dole in the U.S. Senate when Dole bailed out of the Senate in 1996 focus on his race for president.

And when Sebelius picked him in 2006 as her running mate, many thought that Parkinson's political career was seeing a second act.

Suddenly the big name for state Democrats is Dennis McKinney, the state's newly appointed treasurer. The pressure on McKinney to run for the state's highest office will be intense, especially as the Democrats don't appear to have anyone else ready.

A formal announcement from Parkinson is expected any moment. More in tomorrow's Star.