60 Democratic Senators By The End Of February? Update

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 17:12

Quick update on the possibility of Democrats reaching sixty seats in the Senate, and thus theoretically having enough Senators to render Republican filibusters impossible.

  1. Anonymous Democratic sources indicate that New Hampshire Republican Senator, Judd Gregg, is now the leading choice for Commerce Secretary.
  2. However, anonymous Republican sources indicate that Gregg would never accept the position unless he was replaced by a Republican in the Senate.
More details in the extended entry.
Chris Bowers :: 60 Democratic Senators By The End Of February? Update
An anonymous source in the Obama administration indicates that Judd Gregg is the leading candidate to become Commerce Secretary:

An Obama administration official tells ABC News that Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is now the leading candidate for Commerce Secretary and could be announced as soon as Monday.(...)

Gregg's announcement, while making the Obama administration more bipartisan, would likely have the opposite effect on the U.S. Senate. New Hampshire's Democratic governor John Lynch could appoint a Democrat to replace Gregg, thus delivering to Democrats their elusive 60-vote majority, empowering them to stave off Republican filibusters.

However, anonymous sources close to Judd Gregg claim that he would never accept the position, unless he was replaced in the Senate by a Republican:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) won't accept a position as President Obama's secretary of Commerce unless he is guaranteed his Senate seat remains in GOP hands, said two Republicans who know Gregg well.(...)

"Gregg would never allow his seat to go to a Democrat, the only way he would allow it is if he died," said a Republican close to Gregg. "He would consider it to be a breach of trust to people who elected it."

The Republican requested anonymity to avoid the appearance of meddling in Gregg's deliberations.

Let's take a look at the possible outcomes:

  1. Judd Gregg does not become Commerce Secretary. This would be fine. We don't really need anymore Republicans running the government. Further, Miss Laura indicates that New Hampshire Governor Lynch more than likely would not appoint anyone progressive. So really, whatever.

  2. Gregg becomes Commerce Secretary, and is replaced in the Senate by a Republican: This is the worst possible outcome. It would actually increase Republican power over the government. Truly terrible. This potential outcome must be opposed.

  3. Gregg becomes Commerce Secretary, and is replaced in the Senate by a Democrat: While this would put a Republican in charge of a third federal department, and while it would likely result in a DINO becoming Senator in New Hampshire, it would still be a positive outcome. Specifically, it would greatly increase the change that the Employee Free Choice Act will pass into law, and reduce the number of Republicans needed to pass legislation through the Senate. With 60 Democratic caucus members, Republicans would only need to be flipped in order to counteract wayward Democrats. While it won't stop "Gang of 14" style center-right dealings, it would still be a net positive.
I would order the likelihood of these outcomes the same way they are listed here. Outcome number three simply seems too bold for the cautious Obama team, and as such doesn't feel likely to me. Outcome number two is somewhat in line with recent Obama overtures to Republicans, but is actually too big of a concession to fit their normal pattern (with the exception of the huge concession they made by keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense). So, I'm going with outcome number one. I bet the leaks on Gregg are simply a trial balloon to gauge reaction, and that the reaction has been too partisan for the Obama team's liking.

What do you think? Will it be #1, #2 or #3?

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the DINO that'd become Senator is whoever Lynch appoints? (0.00 / 0)
won't Hodes/Porter be able to beat him/her?

I don't see how Gregg is any position to negotiate #2 (4.00 / 1)
If he's considering the post, then he wants out of the Senate.  I would never agree to it, and sure hope Obama wouldn't.


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

I also don't take Republican quotes too seriously (4.00 / 4)
They seem like an attempt to pressure Gregg.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
If Hodes could become Senator that would be huge. (4.00 / 1)
That guy is the real deal.  A very principled liberal.

New Hampshire/Lynch Questions (0.00 / 0)
To put it mildly, Senate appointments have been rather problematic for Governors this year.  If I was in Las Vegas I'm afraid I'd bet on option #2 at this point. I don't favor that option, but it seems to be most in line with the way the wind is blowing.  I know nothing, however, of Gov. Lynch's political personality, does he have Rebublican cabinet officers?  Are there popular Republicans who he might appoint?  Do most Republicans in the state still fit the extremist Manchester Union-Leader mold?  

Anyway, we should know about Gregg by Monday afternoon.

why are they (4.00 / 3)
continually putting forth people who vote and promote:

1.  more bad trade deals
2.  more offshore outsourcing
3.  more guest workers
4.  more erosion of worker rights
5.  who are doing whatever MNCs want them to do

Seriously!  You mean to tell me they cannot find one person out there who is extremely pro business yet isn't one of these idiots who is promoting/voting for policies which are hollowing out the United States?  Not a one?

What about Warren Buffet?  I'll take him.  Any person that has even a shadow concept of the U.S. economic interests, the national interest....

come on these people exist!


The Economic Populist

If Buffett was going to do anything .. (0.00 / 0)
it would have been TreasSec ... but Buffett likes to run his own schedule .. the way Buffett runs his life(his business life really) .. he comes and goes as he pleases .. he hates set schedules .. he doesn't want to be confined in the way that working in DC would confine someone .. Commerce Sec. is always going to be some "pro-business" flunkie .. it's almost always that way

[ Parent ]
but you can be (4.00 / 1)
very pro business, extremely pro business....case in point...China!  and not tank your own national economy.

These people are really not Pro Business, they are long term strategy disabled.

I mean come on, we just had a global financial implosion...

these people who are still trying to run the government and grab power are clearly not sharp sticks.

Warren Buffet is just an example of an extremely sharp business man who does not subscribe to this circle jerk of CEOs who all practice the same inane religion ..regardless of what the statistics, profits, growth tell them.


The Economic Populist

[ Parent ]
Actually, I'd prefer Option 2 if Option 3 leads to a DINO (4.00 / 4)
The speculation seems to be that Lynch may appoint a centrist or liberal Republican elder statesman - someone like 86-year-old former governor Walter Peterson or ex-Sen. Warren Rudman.

If that's the case, we'd get...

(a) Someone willing to vote with Dems on key issues far more than Gregg, for two years.

(b) An open seat in 2010, which vastly increases the chance that we'd win the seat. Gregg, as an entrenched incumbent, would be tougher to beat.

On the other hand, if Lynch appoints someone like Katrina Swett, we get an unreliable Democrat and a likely bitter primary in 2010.

If these are the two options, I'd prefer the first (Chris' "Option 2"). The question then is, is this a price that's worth having a Republican in charge of Commerce?

i agree with your analysis (4.00 / 1)
I'd much rather have a liberal Republican placeholder for 2 years rather than a DINO indefinitely.

A couple unresolved questions:

1) Does the commerce secretary actually do anything?  Is it a powerful position?  I remember people saying that they were surprised that Richardson accepted the position because it would have been such a step down.

2) How big the Republican bench in NH?  Who might they run if Gregg doesn't?

[ Parent ]
Sununu (4.00 / 1)
He's been elected to the Senate and is a logical possibility.  Supposedly he and his father were plotting and working for a comeback based on a possible Gregg retirement at least a month ago.

[ Parent ]
Isn't it possible (0.00 / 0)
that with 60 in the Senate, we actually risk looking bad? Nevermind what you're already thinking, what I mean is looking bad for not passing 'change' legislation because Republicans, including Specter, Snowe, etc, actually unite as in the house and Blue Dogs turn against us.

Option 2 (4.00 / 1)
I think there is a 50.0303 chance of option 2.  (I may be off by a .0000003 %).

Earlier, 538 had a nice discussion (though the site is down as I write, so no link).  Nate thought that there would be little difference in how Gregg would vote and how his replacement would vote, since, as you suggest, the replacement is likely to be moderate too, whether Republican or Democrat.

If the voting record is not likely to change, and the replacement is likely to be a "moderate" either way, then I think we are better off in the long run if that person happens to bear the label "Republican."  

I'm hoping for option 2A (4.00 / 1)
The notoriously risk-averse Gov Lynch appoints some random liberal Republican state senator, one Hodes will be able to beat pretty easily in 2010.

Ah you beat me by a hair!!! n/t (4.00 / 1)

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
You forgot #4 (4.00 / 1)
A RINO gets appointed, or even better, yet a RINO placeholder...

I think this is the most likeley outcome, and could be very beneficial for us, since this RINO would be very "bipartisan" and could be highlighted all the time at the white house...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

Option #4 (3.00 / 4)
The New Hampshire legislature could pass (and the governor could sign) a bill allowing a special election to fill the seat.

But if the legislature doesn't do that, it's another opportunity for Caroline Kennedy to become a senator.

2 wouldn't really be that bad (4.00 / 1)
in fact. It could be the best option.

- Lynch would likely appoint a "RINO" who would either not run for re-election or would lose a primary to a more conservative candidate like frmr Senator Sununuu. In any case for the next two years a more progressive person would likely be representing New Hampshire in the Senate. That person could quite possibly be the 60th vote for a good cap and auction bill, EFCA, the stimulus and other good things.

- Gregg is probably the Republican most likely to win the Senate election in 2010. Any Republican replacement would likely be unknown or not as popular. This increase chances of us picking up the seat in 2010

- In the case of a Republican replacing Gregg it is likely that one of the progressive Reps from New Hampshire (Carol Shea-Porter or Paul Hodes) would win the Democratic nomination and general election in 2010 and become one of the most progressive Senators.

And in return Gregg runs a department for a few years.

How much damage could he really do? Would it outweigh passing EFCA and other good stuff and increasing the likelihood of a new progressive Senator in 2011? I doubt it.

I really can't think of a situation where this on a whole is bad. I think in the worse case Lynch appoints a more conservative Republican and our chances of winning in 2010 go up.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

One additional point... (0.00 / 0)
This could be billed as a bipartisan orgy. Obama appoints a conservative Republican to Commerce, and then asks the Democratic govern to a appoint a Republican replacement? I know bipartisanship gets short thrift around here, but image matters and a new high profile move by Obama to increase his perceived bipartisanship would look fantastic in the aftermath of Republican opposition to economic recovery, fair pay, etc.

Considering that the balance-of-power outcome benefits Democrats, as Populista points out, this PR bonus is probably just the kind of thing Obama is looking for right now.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Gains? (4.00 / 2)
We get a Republican Senator, a Republican Secretary of Commerce and Obama praising Republicans with Lynch joining the chorus.  What benefit does that have, pray tell?

[ Parent ]

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