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Secretary Mikulski?

Oh, this would be interesting. Nobody would stand in the way of our Senator Barb.

Unconfirmed rumors began seeping out of Capitol Hill late today that Maryland Sen. Barbara A. MIkulski is under consideration for the suddenly vacant position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A spokeswoman for Mikulski did not immediately return email and cellphone messages, which only added to the mystery. The White House had no comment, but it does not typically respond to reports about prospective appointments unless they are about to be made public.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew abruptly as President Barack Obama's nominee for the position, which oversees an enormous swath of the federal establishment, including Medicare, the largest government-run health program.

Mikulski, who is up for re-election in 2010, has already begun raising funds for a re-election bid, though she has not formally announced her intention to run. She was first elected to the Senate in 1986.

She would turn 80 in the final year of her next term, if she were to be re-elected, which she almost certainly would if she ran. Mikulski regularly ranks as the most popular elected official in the state and no serious Republican candidate is likely to take her on.