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Judd Gregg to Commerce after Deal

Politico’s David Rogers confirms news that has been widely reported since yesterday morning:

Sen. Judd Gregg will be nominated as the new Commerce secretary Tuesday morning, giving President Obama a fresh independent voice in his Cabinet but at a huge cost to Republicans and the larger Senate.

The run-up to the nomination has focused on backroom deals, from New Hampshire’s statehouse to Washington, to preserve the balance of power in Congress. And Tuesday’s White House announcement is expected to be accompanied by one by New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch that will ensure that Gregg’s seat won’t switch to the Democrats before the 2010 elections.

The promise to appoint a caretaker Republican alleviates the short-term objection from Republicans to Judd taking the seat — that an appointed Democrat would likely give the party the elusive “filibuster proof” 60 votes.   Still, it opens the door for Lynch to run for the Senate with the most difficult Republican challenger out of the way.

I still don’t know why anyone would consider Commerce Secretary a step up over a Senate seat, especially if one holds Ranking Member status on a major committee.

And then there’s this:

But lost in the shuffle is the greater dynamic: Gregg himself and the fact that Obama, while talking a good game about bipartisanship, is draining the Senate of the very talent he needs to achieve this goal.

That’s a fair point, one that Matt Yglesias echoes:

If I were a Republican United States Senator who was supportive of Barack Obama’s economic recovery agenda at a time when the vast majority of my colleagues seem inclined to obstruct it, I would feel that the U.S. Senate was a promising venue from which to advance that agenda. And if I wasn’t supportive of said agenda, I don’t think I would be inclined to serve in Obama’s cabinet.

Brian Beutler makes a similar point in a snarkier manner:

Surely Gregg’s desire to replace himself with somebody who will often oppose his new boss’s agenda is evidence of his deep commitment to the administration, the cabinet, and the agency he appears poised to head.

I’m afraid the move doesn’t make sense from any standpoint except Lynch’s in the short term.  Maybe Obama figures that having a Democrat take the seat in 2010 is worth any minor policy trade-offs.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    I’m afraid the move doesn’t make sense from any standpoint except Lynch’s in the short term.

    Well, there’s always the non-cynical view that maybe he’d be good for the job. That is, whatever a Commerce Secretary does. :)

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  2. [...] Judd Gregg (R-NH), President Barack Obama’s pick to be Secretary of Commerce, is a hard-core conservative. He supports drilling in the Arctic Refuge, opposes the United [...]

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  3. James Joyner says:

    Well, there’s always the non-cynical view that maybe he’d be good for the job. That is, whatever a Commerce Secretary does. :)

    Sure. But he’s one less vote for Obama, too.

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  4. Michael says:

    Sure. But he’s one less vote for Obama, too.

    Unless Gregg puts forward better policy, because he is good for the job. Again the non-cynical view is that Obama wants support for better policy, not better support for bad policy.

    Not that I’m taking the non-cynical view. I think this is more an illusion of bi-partisanship than anything.

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  5. Grewgills says:

    What am I missing? Why is it taken as given that the Republican the Lynch will appoint will oppose Obama’s economic recovery agenda? It will after be a NH Republican chosen by a Democratic governor.

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  6. steve s says:

    The promise to appoint a caretaker Republican alleviates the short-term objection from Republicans to Judd taking the seat — that an appointed Democrat would likely give the party the elusive “filibuster proof” 60 votes.

    I sincerely hope the dems can get 60 or more in 2010. Then the Party of Stupid will have little power and they can sit around playing with their Palin and Joe the Plumber action figures while the adults try to fix the messes they made.

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