It looks like New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is inclined to go along with Judd Gregg, all but promising a Republican appointment to replace him if Gregg gets the top job at the Commerce Department.
"I have had conversations with Senator Gregg, the White House and U.S. Senate leadership. Senator Gregg has said he would not resign his seat in the U.S. Senate if it changed the balance in the Senate. Based on my discussions, it is clear the White House and Senate leadership understand this as well.
"It is important that President Obama be able to select the advisors he feels are necessary to help him address the challenges facing our nation.
"If President Obama does nominate Senator Gregg to serve as Commerce Secretary, I will name a replacement who will put the people of New Hampshire first and represent New Hampshire effectively in the U.S. Senate."
He doesn't outright say it, but he pretty much says that he won't stand in the way of Obama getting his man, and if he needs to appoint a Republican, so be it.
Even if it's a moderate, this makes little sense to me. Gregg would start the 2010 race with about as much of a chance as other Northeastern Senators Rick Santorum, Lincoln Chafee and John Sununu in recent cycles. Waiting until 2010 for a Democrat is pretty much the same whether he takes the Commerce Secretary job or not. So a hard-core economic conservative gets a job in the executive branch, in exchange for maybe an Olympia Snowe clone? This doesn't seem like a good trade, especially considering that Gregg would have to vote like a Snowe clone HIMSELF if he wants to keep his job in 2010.
If Lynch wants a successor "who will put the people of New Hampshire first," he can follow the strictures of the Feingold amendment and announce a special election for the seat. There's nothing stopping him from doing so. New Hampshirites would be right to demand this.
...good point by Brian Beutler:
Surely Gregg’s desire to replace himself with somebody who will often oppose his new boss’s agenda is evidence of his deep commitment to the administration, the cabinet, and the agency he appears poised to head.
...and it's Gregg. Unbelievable. This went from shrewd to stupid in a flash.