Judd Gregg Pulls Out of Consideration for Commerce Secretary

This statement from the office of Judd Gregg is shocking, to say the least.

I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

This is strange for so many reasons. It's hard to believe that the Republican Gregg, who has been in public office for three decades and who is the son of a Governor, didn't know what he was getting himself into by accepting a position in the cabinet of an administration of a Democrat. Why these policy differences cropped up now, weeks into the process, instead of in the period leading up to Gregg's selection and acceptance of the President's offer is difficult to understand.

But more as we hear it...

Update [2009-2-12 17:5:19 by Jonathan Singer]: The statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

“Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce. He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart”.

Update [2009-2-12 17:11:19 by Todd Beeton]:More from Gregg (via Politico):

Judd Gregg tells Politico’s David Rogers: “I couldn’t be Judd Gregg and serve in the Cabinet. I should have faced up to the reality of that earlier.”

Gregg said the Census was not a major factor in his decision – that the bigger factors were his background as a fiscal conservative and independence. He said he made the White House aware of his concerns as he wrestled with the decisions over the last week. “It’s been very difficult,” he said.

“The fault lies with me,” Gregg said, refusing to discuss any conversations he has had with Obama himself. Asked if he felt the decision would be an embarrassment for the president, Gregg said, “I may have embarrassed myself but hopefully not him.”

Update [2009-2-12 17:26:10 by Todd Beeton]:Ron Brownstein on MSNBC: "It will be interesting to see what this means for 2010. This reaffirms Judd Gregg's partisanship in a state trending the other way."

Judd Gregg is currently holding a newsconference. He's very complimentary toward Obama and criticizing himself. He has just promised to carry Obama's water in the Senate. Can I hold you to that?

"This is simply a bridge too far for me. The president asked me to do it. I said yes. That was my mistake, not his."

"I want to express my admiration for this president."

Update [2009-2-12 17:33:19 by Todd Beeton]:"Will I run in 2010? Probably not."

Update [2009-2-12 17:33:19 by Todd Beeton]:Gregg just denied having reached out to the administration for the job, which Robert Gibbs said he had in the statement above. "Everybody has a different recollection of what happened."

There's more...

Why not Howard Dean for Sec. of Health and Human Services?

Now that Daschle is out of the picture, everyone is wondering who Obama will put up for Secretary of Health and Human Services. If it were my choice, I'd go straight to Howard Dean.

Dean is, first of all, a Physician and knows the health field from the inside. Has head of the Democratic Party his 50 State Stratey was a masterpiece of organization and one of the reasons Obama carried so many states that were previously in the Republican Column. Dean is intelligent, articulate and a real presence when he appears on television or at rallies.

Now, as I understand it, there's friction between Dean and Rahm Emmanuel that ha to be overcome, but Rahm's personal crap should not be standing in the way of a real position in the Administration for Dean, who, after all his work, has been really, and insultingly, overlooked.

Under The LobsterScope

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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.

There's more...

McConnell Says Gregg will Be Replaced By a Republican

From the AP's Phil Elliott:

No change in the Senate's balance of power if New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg leaves to become commerce secretary.

That's the word from the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell. He says Gregg has assured fellow GOP senators of that.

McConnell says Gregg has promised he would be replaced by someone who would affiliate with other Republicans in the Senate.

Ben Smith's reporting cuts a bit in the opposite direction, with Smith writing that the Obama White House "is still trying to get a gaurantee from Governor Lynch that he'll replace Senator Gregg with a Democrat." If McConnell is correct, and Lynch is gearing up to appoint a Republican in Gregg's stead -- even a placeholder Republican, even a moderate or liberal Republican -- the value of a Gregg pick seems to decrease greatly, at least from this vantage. Yes, having Gregg out of the 2010 race would greatly increase the likelihood that the Democrats would win the New Hampshire Senate contest, so there is at least some upside. But if the point is merely to appoint a Republican, there are probably better choices who are significantly less conservative or stalwart.

There's more...

Would Gregg Even Stay in the Senate if He Says No to Obama?

First Read makes an interesting point.

The Judd-Gregg-for-Commerce-Secretary story is very real. Senate Republicans are upset that he hasn't put the story to bed. So clearly he's pondering. One sticking point is that New Hampshire has a Dem governor, John Lynch, and that could give Democrats 60 seats if Gregg leaves and Al Franken eventually wins. One idea floating out there is a deal between Obama/Gregg and Lynch to appoint a caretaker Republican (perhaps ex-Sen. Warren Rudman?). Even if he doesn't take the job, Gregg is certainly sending the signal that he doesn't want to run in 2010. That is a terrible sign for the Senate GOP. Another retirement makes the idea of netting a single seat in 2010 nearly impossible. This likely outcome in 2010 actually could mean Lynch and Obama are open to a deal that keeps a Republican in the seat until November 2010, since getting that 60th Senate seat in the coming years seems probable. [emphasis added]

Even if Judd Gregg doesn't end up accepting a position in Barack Obama's cabinet -- and reports have the Senate GOP working overtime to try to keep Gregg in the Congress -- the folks at First Read are correct that by openly considering a job atop the Commerce Department Gregg isn't exactly sending signals that he's interested in staying in the Senate beyond 2010. And who can blame him? As bad as it is to be a Senate Republican today, imagine how meaningless the caucus could be come two years from now with a minority without sufficient membership to sustain a filibuster. And take Gregg out of the mix, and all of the sudden a seat that was more likely than not to stay in Republican hands (though far from assuredly) becomes a tossup, if not lean Democratic. Little wonder, then, that Republicans don't like to hear that Gregg is signaling an interest in getting out of dodge.

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