Kathleen Sebelius

During her first term in office, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius so impressed the former head of the state's Republican Party that he became a Democrat in order to serve as her running mate in 2006. A pro-business, pro-military, pro-choice, fiscal conservative, Sebelius easily won re-election this fall, and has emerged as the dean of a new breed of Democrats taking over what was once reliably red terrain. In recent years Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico have sent Democrats to the statehouse. Last month they helped elect Sebelius head of the Democratic Governors Association, fueling chatter that she would make a good vice presidential running mate in 2008.

In Kansas, Sebelius helped revive the bankrupt school system and battled the Pentagon for better equipment for Kansas National Guard troops in Iraq. "Kansans are pragmatic," she says. "Results trump labels." It could be a winning formula elsewhere.