2010, Here We Go Again
02-04-2009
Several readers have asked me to comment on what the Judd Gregg/Bonnie Newman switch might mean for New Hampshire Democrats in 2010. Let me begin by saying (as I have before) that the scenario in which Gov. Lynch appoints a strong Democratic successor to Senator Gregg, thereby giving Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, was just not realistic. Gregg would not have allowed it to happen, and I don’t think that was President Obama’s intention in making the choice. So, the rancor now directed at Lynch from the left is academic.
 
Although some Democrats believe Judd Gregg was vulnerable, I still think it is fair to say that he would have been the strongest candidate to defend the seat in 2010. My guess is it would have been a very contentious and expensive general election campaign, but he would have been tough to unseat. Now Republicans are in a difficult position. I don’t know that going back to the bench of unseated incumbents is a winning strategy. Those in the party who think John E. Sununu lost only because he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” have not fully grasped the state’s changing political demography. Yet they don’t have much time to cultivate new political talent from within the party ranks either.
 
So, all things considered, I think yesterday’s outcome is a net positive for New Hampshire Democrats. I won’t guarantee them the Senate seat in 2010, but not having to unseat Gregg wins them half the battle up-front. The rest will depend on whether there are any primary challenges and what the final general election match-up looks like. Stay tuned for much more on these questions in the coming weeks.


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