Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Appointing Another Senator

President Obama has created yet another vacancy in the Senate (subject to the confirmation process). If his nominee for secretary of commerce, Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, is confirmed by his fellow senators, Democratic Governor John Lynch will appoint Gregg's Senate successor.

Apparently, a tacit deal has been worked out, whereby Lynch will appoint a Republican, so as to not to give the Democrats a 60-seat theoretically filibuster-proof supermajority. Lynch's statement, as quoted in this blog post by Marc Ambinder, does not exactly say that. But it seems to nail it down well enough.

However, there are Republicans and then there are Republicans. In the absence of a stricter deal, Lynch could appoint a RINO (Republican in name only). I know there are such creatures here in Pennsylvania, and I suspect they might be even more prevalent in New England. Now, I might support such an appointee, if they reflect traditional Republican principles, without being a disciple of Pat Robertson. But who knows what to expect?

One option would be to voluntarily submit to the procedure that was followed, pursuant to state law, when Senator Craig Thomas, Republican of Wyoming, died in 2007. The Wyoming Republican committee submitted a list of three names to Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal, who chose John Barrasso from that list to be Thomas's successor.

Also, I wonder whether Gregg has communicated, directly or indirectly, with Lynch about specific names.

Another question is why Gregg would end a long career in Congress (continuously since first elected to the House in 1980, except for a four-year break to serve as governor), to take a mid-level Cabinet post. I suspect he might feel like one of the last specimens of an endangered species. That once-great beast, the New England Republican, formerly roamed that region in great numbers. Maine's two senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are now the only Republicans in either house of Congress from that region, other than Gregg. Something about handwriting and walls?

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