What Am I Missing?
I fully understand hiring Sen. Judd Gregg to be Barack Obama's Commerce Secretary in the context of getting a 60th Democratic Senator. While 60 isn't a magic threshold (especially when you have people like Ben Nelson in the caucus willing to capitulate), another Democratic vote on many issues is both vital and also symbolically demoralizing to conservatives.
In the context of New Hampshire Governor John Lynch picking a Republican to succeed Gregg, the hiring makes no sense whatsoever.
The White House hopes to make the announcement for Commerce Secretary next Monday or Tuesday, with the precise date depending upon F.B.I background checks. Administration officials said that Mr. Gregg is one of the candidates for the post, but not the only person being considered. (New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration for the post early this month because of an investigation into contracts in his state.)
One of several unresolved questions surrounding this story: Would New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, consider replacing Mr. Gregg in the Senate with a Republican? That is the question being asked among Republicans in New Hampshire.
Political Wire has more on this, including a potential successor, former Republican Gov. Walter Peterson, who "was chair of the 'Republicans for Lynch' committee, would vote with Democrats as much as Maine's Senators do, and most likely wouldn't run in 2010."
OK, but... we can beat Judd Gregg in two years. And the fact that he's considering the Commerce Secretary position signals that he's on his way out of the Senate and may not even run in 2010. Getting a Republican who votes slightly more in the Democratic direction than Gregg for two years is something, I guess, but that won't supersede Gregg wreaking havoc at Commerce, to the extent that he can. Gregg is economically very conservative, he was a strong Bush ally throughout his two terms and he would bring nothing but bad ideas to Commerce. There's an open question of what he could actually do there, but you have to look at this as a trade-off. In exchange for the 60th Democrat, good trade. In exchange for another Republican, no matter how "good" the Republican, bad trade.
BTW, If Russ Feingold's Constitutional amendment were in place and this would go to a special election, I would say good trade, because Republicans are poison in New England.