During the election season we heard a lot about “60” — that magic number of Senate seats that would allow the Democrats to block any filibuster, and, Republicans feared, tax the American people into submission. When all the votes were tallied, they came up just one seat short (assuming Al Franken eventually gets his seat). So close! Reasonably, the Democrats should be able to attract at least one measly Republican to their side, but who wants to even deal with that? Luckily, President Obama has come up with a solution: Fill the empty Commerce Secretary post with Republican New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg. As we know, our wonderful system calls for New Hampshire’s Democratic governor to pick Gregg’s successor in such an event, and one would assume he’d choose another Democrat. And voilà, 60!
It’s a clever but slightly crass move — nobody even knows what the Commerce Secretary does anyway, so who cares who’s in there? And Obama will fundamentally alter the balance of power in the Senate in his favor with what appears to be another bipartisan gesture. Of course, Gregg would have to agree to the post for this scheme to work, and at least one report has him seeking assurances from New Hampshire’s governor that he’d appoint a Republican. That’s unlikely to happen, but it may not even matter to Gregg, who is one of the only remaining Republicans in New England (and the two ladies from Maine don’t quite count) and is facing a tough reelection. Despite the peer pressure from fellow Republican senators, who would prefer to remain slightly relevant, Gregg just might make the decision based on what’s best for him.
GOP’s Gregg in mix for Commerce [Politico]