State Sen. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), who is seeking Rep. Jerry MoranJerry MoranProposal to privatize air traffic control struggles to win over critics Senate panel to reject Trump’s air traffic control plan in aviation bill Senate panel readies must-pass aviation bill MORE's (R-Kan.) seat next year, criticized Kansas Gov. Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusAligning clinical and community resources improves health Sebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' Obama's health secretary to be first female president of American University MORE' nomination to be secretary of Health and Human services on Thursday.

Moran is vacating his seat to run for Sen. Sam Brownback's (R) in the Senate. Brownback has announced he won't seek re-election and instead plans to run for governor.

Huelskamp, like several other conservative groups, took issue with his state governor's position on abortion. "Sebelius' extreme positions on abortion -- as well as her close ties to a late-term abortion provider -- should disqualify her from running this nation's care policy," he said in a statement. "At the very least, it should disqualify her from receiving any conservative support."

The state senator is referring to George Tiller, a Wichita doctor whose clinic allegedly performed late-term abortions in violation of Kansas restrictions. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and other leaders of conservative groups, quickly denounced the nomination last weekend.

It appears, though, that Sebelius' nomination is unlikely to face a serious challenge in the Senate. Kansas' Republican senators, who both oppose abortion rights, have said they will back Sebelius' nomination.

Huelskamp is one of a few candidates that are already running for Moran's massive 1st District seat. Rob Wasinger, Brownback's former chief of staff, is also running, as is businessman Tim Barker. Huelskamp has already picked up the endorsement of former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential contender Mike Huckabee. Both Moran and Brownback are not expected to endorse anyone in the race.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com