Former Ohio governor confident in daughter's pick

CINCINNATI (AP) - The father of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Monday he is confident that she will prove to be a strong pick for secretary of health and human services.

Former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan said she has been active in civics and politics since she was growing up in Cincinnati, and has built an impressive record in Kansas as a Democrat who gained statewide support in a Republican state.

He thinks she will withstand critics of her selection by President Barack Obama and get through the confirmation process.

"I think the president's made a great choice," Gilligan said. "Kathleen has had a remarkable career. She is something."

Some abortion foes have pledged vigorous opposition to Sebelius, an abortion rights supporter, who became Obama's choice after former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination following his disclosure that he had tax problems.

"It will be like watching her in a bull ring," Gilligan said. "You can't do much to help her, but you can cross your fingers. She'll do very well."

He joined Sebelius when she came to Cincinnati last year to campaign for Obama. An early backer of Obama, her name was mentioned at times as a possible running mate.

Gilligan was a Democratic governor in 1971-75. The former congressman also served two years heading the U.S. Agency for International Development under President Jimmy Carter, and recently completed eight years as a Cincinnati school board member.

Sebelius' 2002 election in Kansas made them the only father and daughter to serve as governors in U.S. history. Gilligan will turn 88 later this month. The father of four children recently became a great-grandfather.

 (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)