AP: Gregg Will Not Run for Reelection

Here's the report:

Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is citing "irresolvable conflicts" with President Barack Obama in deciding to withdraw as the nominee for commerce secretary.

The Republican senator specifically cited differences of opinion with the president over the $790 billion economic stimulus that is moving toward final congressional action.

[...]

Gregg also says he won't be running for re-election to the Senate next year.

The strangeness continues...

Update [2009-2-12 17:38:22 by Jonathan Singer]:WMUR reports the same thing.

Update [2009-2-12 18:8:29 by Jonathan Singer]: From the horse's mouth:

In his press conference, Gregg says he will "probably not" run again.

Seems less solid than the reporting above, though perhaps not...

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NH-Sen: Paul Hodes Strongest Candidate Thus Far

From Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling (.pdf), on the race to replace Judd Gregg (or perhaps more precisely Bonnie Newman, the Republican who will be appointed to replace Judd Gregg):

Charlie Bass (R): 37 percent
Paul Hodes (D): 40 percent

John Sununu (R): 44 percent
Paul Hodes (D): 46 percent

Charlie Bass (R): 43 percent
Carol Shea-Porter (D): 42 percent

John Sununu (R): 46 percent
Carol Shea-Porter (D): 45 percent

Currently, Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, who has already announced that he is running, polls well on top of either former GOP Congressman Charlie Bass (whom he beat in 2006) and former GOP Senator John Sununu (who lost his reelection bid last year). Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter doesn't poll too much more weakly. This race won't likely be easy for the Democrats -- but at worst it should be a tossup, not a bad position for a potential pickup.

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Lynch: Newman Won't Run for Reelection, Won't Endorse Either

Per Josh Kraushaar:

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) appointed Republican Bonnie Newman as Judd Gregg's successor in the Senate today -- and announced she will not run for election in 2010.

"Bonnie has assured me she will not run in 2010, and she will not endorse any candidates in 2010," said Lynch.

Newman, in accepting the appointment, described herself as a "proud and independent Republican." She said that she never "in her wildest, wildest dreams" expected to serve in the Senate.

This statement -- which isn't even from Senator-designate Bonnie Newman but rather from Democratic Governor John Lynch -- isn't necessarily binding. Newman could certainly back out of it. Other Senators have said they wouldn't run and then changed their minds (most recently GOP Senator Susan Collins, who pledged to serve just two terms in the Senate but then broke her promise). Then again, it doesn't seem terribly likely that Newman will run, meaning that the Democrats should have a fairly good shot at picking up this seat in 2010 -- particularly with Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes in the race.

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Breaking: Hodes (D) will run for NH-Sen in 2010

From the Manchester Union Leader:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes will announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate "within the week," a source close to Hodes told UnionLeader.com this morning shortly before Judd Gregg's nomination as commerce secretary became official.

The developments surrounding that surprising appointment by President Obama "has speed up his timeline and he will make an formal announcement within the week," the source said.

"We are working on the necessary paperwork," the source said. "We were not expecting this."

Aside from Governor Lynch, Hodes of Concord - my Congressman, no less - is probably the biggest name in the NH Democratic Party today. The state's other representative, Carol Shea-Porter of Manchester, isn't quite as well funded, and her House seat is much more vulnerable. Though she has mulled a Senate run, I doubt we'll see it happen. Other names, like former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, might jump into the primary, but my guess is that Hodes will ultimately be our nominee. This is good news - I'm a fan of Marchand, but I know Hodes, and he's a good guy and a hard-working progressive.

It will be interesting to see who runs for his House seat, which Republicans have held for 88 of the past 95 years but is now trending Democratic.

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NH-Sen & MN-Sen: Bipartisanship

As Josh Orton pointed out here earlier today, Democratic Governor John Lynch has released a statement making clear that he will appoint a Republican rather than a Democrat to fill the vacancy created should Democratic President Barack Obama name Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary.

That's right.  Not only is our Democratic President willing to put another Republican in his Cabinet (making three, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - I recall hearing today, but I have not confirmed, that three members of the opposing Party in the Cabinet at the same time is the most since FDR's first term!), but the Democratic Governor is willing to meet the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, despite the fact that the President, the Governor, and the clear political trend in New Hampshire is Democratic.

Democrats are bending over backwards to embody the spirit of bipartisanship to which Republicans in the Senate only exploit and pay lip-service.  Why do I say this, and what does this have to do with MN-Sen (though you've probably guessed by now)?

Minnesota only has one seated U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.  Norm Coleman's term expired last month, and Senator-elect Al Franken's seating is held up by Coleman's frivolous, foot-dragging, evidence-free lawsuit, which has featured apparently-doctored evidence by Coleman as well as notoriously dud witnesses and lies regarding cherry-picked voters.

There is state law in Minnesota that the Governor and Secretary of State cannot sign an election certificate if there is an election contest underway.  Fine.  Coleman has blocked Senator-elect Franken's election certification.  Whoopie for him.

Still, no one debates that the ultimate arbiter for the Senate race, as dictated by Section 5 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is the U.S. Senate (and that federal Constitutional law trumps state policy).  Further, there is precedent - very recent precedent, at that - of provisionally seating an uncertified-but-clearly-victorious Senate candidate while an election challenge was underway: Senator Mary Landrieu's first Senate victory in 1996, a provisional seating supported by Republicans (emphasis added by me):

There is, moreover, historical precedent for seating Franken on a temporary basis. In 1996, Mary Landrieu won the Louisiana Senate seat in a hotly contested race. But her opponent, State Representative Woody Jenkins, alleged that massive election fraud had contributed to his defeat. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate agreed to look into the charges but allowed Landrieu to serve in the interim, pending investigation. The Rules Committee ultimately discovered that Jenkins had coached and paid witnesses to testify, thus discrediting his complaints of corruption and securing Landrieu's place in the Senate.

That was then.  This is now:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has warned Democrats not to try to seat Al Franken any time soon, and he predicts the legal process will take at least a month to unfold, meaning the Senate may be stuck with 99 members well into February.

In an unusual move, Kyl went to the Senate floor this morning to lay out all the reasons why the Minnesota Senate election remains unresolved, and he listed Sen. Norm Coleman's arguments before the Minnesota courts. Coleman's election lawsuit contends there are newly discovered ballots, missing ballots, wrongly rejected absentee ballots and double counting of votes.

An election was held.  A manual recount was undertaken.  Contested ballots were reviewed one-by-one by an independent panel.  Independent local election officials then reviewed absentee ballots to determine which were properly rejected and which should be counted.  After every possible review was conducted, Al Franken led by 225 votes and the results were certified by the independent Canvassing Board (not to be confused with an election certificate).  Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman has been unable to provide any hard evidence at all that confirms any wrongdoing in the election or any misconduct or miscounting that would move the result substantively in his favor.  Norm Coleman lost, notwithstanding Jon Kyl's parroting of Coleman's political talking points on the Senate floor.  But he is contesting.  Fine.  He is availing himself of the legal system (that his Party would seek to curtail others' access to through so-called "tort reform," but that's another story).

In desperately clinging to the myth that votes were widely double-counted, the Coleman camp repeats the concept "one man, one vote." In the U.S. Senate, every state gets two Senators, two votes.  However, in the meantime, Minnesota only has one Senator.  Because of Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit and the Senate GOP's lack of that bipartisan spirit that they trumpet when it serves their ends, Minnesotans have only half of the representation and half of the avenues to constituent service in the U.S. Senate that every other citizen of the other 49 U.S. states has.

The U.S. Constitution is on Al Franken's side.  Republican-supported Senate precedent is on Al Franken's side.  And bipartisanship is on Al Franken's side.  Just as our Democratic President has seen fit to name a Republican Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and New Hampshire's Democratic Governor has seen fit to honor the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, it only seems fitting that Republican Senators ought to allow the (Constitutionally-supported and precedent-supported) provisional seating of Senator-elect Al Franken while Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit runs its course so that Minnesotans can enjoy full representation in the U.S. Senate once again.  It's good for Minnesota.  It's good for bipartisanship.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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