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.