Should I Stay or Should I Go?
01-30-2009
As you can probably guess, I spent a good chunk of today talking about the news that Senator Judd Gregg might be tapped to be President Obama’s Commerce Secretary. Like a lot of political observers, I was very interested to see that Gregg did not take himself out of the running this morning, but instead would only say that he is “honored to be considered.” So, from all indications, it sounds like he is a serious candidate for the position left unfilled by Obama’s original nominee, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. The political implications of Gregg leaving the Senate are pretty obvious to anyone who follows congressional politics, although I would not be surprised to see Gov. Lynch throw a curve by appointing another Republican to the seat.
 
But the fact that Gregg is keeping his hat in the ring, despite intense pressure from Republican colleagues to stay, reminds me that it is often difficult to really know what a politician is thinking about his future career path at a given moment. At age 61, Gregg could in theory continue to serve in the Senate for another decade or more, or he could have instead decided that he’s not really interested in a bruising, expensive campaign for reelection in 2010, even as he schedules fundraisers to that end. He could be eager for a new professional challenge, or simply prepared to answer the president’s call to service in a time of economic crisis. I find that you can learn a lot in these moments about how a politician weighs competing personal and professional considerations, and I’m always intrigued by those who make a move that at first glance appears counterintuitive.

Comments:


Posted On: 01-31-2009 15:20:12 by Bill
If Lynch would consider appointing someone other than a Democrat, why must it necessarily be a Republican? Why must we ASSUME it would have to be a Republican? If he's in the mood for mischief, why couldn't he appoint a Libertarian ("Grassroots for Ken Blevens?" How 'bout an LPNH press release? nhcaptv.com/episode/38 ) or an independent? And assuming Lynch wants to show non-partisan cred while also not unnecessarily pissing off his base, unless he's conceding that 'D' and 'R' really ARE the same party (or simply that he's willing to play shamelessly cynical political games at his state constituents' perceived expense), why wouldn't a NON-R non-D be preferable for his purposes, anyway?


Posted On: 01-31-2009 17:27:56 by Dan Davis
Gregg has already betrayed the people of NH with his complicity in the TARP billionare bailout. His acceptance of a position in the Obama administration would be the final abandonment of what, at one time, were core Republican principles of limited government and individual liberties.


Posted On: 02-01-2009 22:58:08 by Jim Splaine
Hi Dean -- It's interesting to see the way the discussion has evolved during the past few days. Many of my Democratic colleagues disagree with me -- they think this is a great victory for New Hampshire Democrats because we get Judd Gregg out of our state and into a low-level Washington bureaucracy. I don't see it that way -- I think this is a tremendous win for New Hampshire Republicans. It opens a slot for former Senator John E. Sununu to run in 2010 and it gives his Dad, Republican Chair John Sununu, a much stronger role as "lead" spokesperson these next two years. And Commerce Secretary ain't something to laugh at. He'll run a 38,000+ department and can be involved in political, economic, and trade discussions in the media and on his trips. Plus, he's a member of the President's Cabinet. Add to all that, of course, the reality that Judd Gregg's political career itself may well not be over. If Joe Biden's selection shows us anything, being in one's 60s in politics is not necessarily the end-game. I could see Gregg serve two or three years as Commerce Secretary/Cabinet Member, then decide "in good conscience" he has to resign from the Obama Admnistration. He'd be a strong contender for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, or would be a good choice for Vice President. He would have been a Governor, a Congressperson, and a Senator, AND had showed his desire at bipartisanship by taking the Cabinet position. As a Barack Obama Admistration "insider" for a couple of years, his credibility would have been enhanced.


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