Judd Gregg: Not Without My Elephant

Barack Obama figured out a clever way to give Harry Reid his 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  Instead of continuing to raid Reid’s caucus for Cabinet appointees, Obama could find a Republican Senator whose seat was at serious risk in 2010, from a state where a Democratic governor would appoint the replacement.  Obama gets some bipartisan credibility and Reid gets his final supermajority vote, while the Republican gets a golden parachute.


Unfortunately for Reid and Obama, Judd Gregg (R-NH) has not quite played along with Obama’s master plan:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) won’t accept a position as President Obama’s secretary of Commerce unless he is guaranteed his Senate seat remains in GOP hands, said two Republicans who know Gregg well.

Departing the Senate without one could give Democrats 60 members and a filibuster-proof majority.

“Gregg would never allow his seat to go to a Democrat, the only way he would allow it is if he died,” said a Republican close to Gregg. “He would consider it to be a breach of trust to people who elected it.” …

Republicans who know Gregg well say that Lynch must agree to select a Republican because Gregg, one of the most revered leaders in New Hampshire Republican politics, would not allow his seat to give Democrats filibuster-proof control of the Senate.

“He will not take Commerce secretary unless Lynch says he will appoint a Republican,” said the Republican close to Gregg.

Gregg has zero chance of getting any such commitment out of Lynch.  Even if he did, he couldn’t hold Lynch to it after resigning the seat, although it might be difficult for Lynch to renege on a publicly stated commitment to appoint a Republican.  Lynch would get attacked by his own party for making such a promise and attacked by Republicans if he broke it.  As in the movie War Games, the only way for Lynch to win this one is not to play at all.


Republicans should hail Gregg for taking a stand.  He still could win re-election in 2010, but it will be a tough race, and Republicans have mostly lost those over the last two election cycles.  A Cabinet appointment would give Gregg some stability and an opportunity to wield real authority.  Gregg can’t help but to find it attractive, but if The Hill has this right, Gregg’s choosing loyalty over personal enrichment.

If so, I wish we had a lot more politicians like Judd Gregg, regardless of political stripe.  Hopefully, Harry Reid and Barack Obama will get stuck holding their 30 pieces of silver.

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David Strom 9:50 AM | February 23, 2024