If Judd Gregg were to leave the Senate to join the Obama administration, it would clearly be a slap in the face to Republicans. Even were New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch to agree to appoint a Republican, anybody Lynch picked would be a moderate who would likely be more vulnerable than Gregg in 2010. So what is Gregg thinking? Obviously, only he knows, but last July, The American Spectator hosted a dinner attended by Gregg, and looking back at my blog account from that time left me with a few possible insights.
At the time, Gregg was much more optimistic about the Republicans chances in the fall’s Senate races than most political observers. He thought John Sununu would win in New Hampshire and that in the end, Republicans would only lose two or three seats. Of course, Sununu went down and Republicans ended up losing 7 or 8 seats (pending the official outcome of Norm Coleman’s contest in Minnesota). The Sununu loss may have spooked him about his own chances of retaking his Senate seat in the increasingly blue New Hampshire in 2010.
In addition, Gregg may not be relishing the thought of life in the minority. During our dinner, Gregg complained about how under Harry Reid’s leadership, the minority party was becoming as marginalized as it was in the House, which was a source of real frustration for Gregg. I can only imagine that feeling being deeper given how much more diminished Republicans are in this Congress. Whatever his frustrations are with being in the Senate, though, I don’t see how things would be any better for him as a conservative Commerce Secretary in a very liberal administration.
One thing that was interesting was that as of last July, when I asked Gregg about his experiences working with Obama in the Senate, he said he saw very little of Obama:
He used to see him in the gym in the morning, and said Obama was in “great shape.” But he didn’t see him on the floor much, because Obama started running for president so soon into his freshman Senate term.
“I don’t know who he is or what he stands for better than anybody else,” Gregg said. “He’s a blank page.”
He did concede, however, that one has to respect Obama for what he’s been able to accomplish having come out of nowhere.
Gregg later added that when people walked into the voting booth in November, they may ask themselves, “”Do I really want somebody three years removed from the state senate to be president?”He also said Obama had the potential to be a “transcendent figure.”
Have Obama’s transcendent powers gotten the better of Gregg?
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