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Republican Judd Gregg To Be Commerce Secretary

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Looks like the Republican senator will be attempting to join the Obama administration since a press conference is set for tomorrow morning. And my guess is that he’ll get confirmed immediately.

Now, there had been speculation that Obama’s team was picking Gregg to swing the senate to 60 Dem votes, but that was quickly put to rest as the senator was assured his successor would be a Republican.

Politico has some background on the relatively unknown senator:

To a remarkable degree, Gregg has served as a trusted, behind-the scenes consigliore for every leader since the mid-‘90s, from Mississippi’s Trent Lott to Bill Frist of Tennessee and now Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. He is that Washington rarity: someone who thinks—often out loud— about issues but can also operate privately in giving advice and respecting the discretion of leaders.

“When everyone had said their piece, I would always turn to Judd and say, ‘Give us the contrarian view,’ and he would,” Lott told Politico. “He was loyal to his friends and not to have him, the Senate will be a lesser place. There’s that old joke when a House member goes to the Senate, the intellect of both bodies goes up. Well when Judd Gregg leaves, the Senate’s intellect will go down.”

Gregg’s record—in the House, as New Hampshire’s governor, and for 16 years in the Senate—has always been that of a fiscal conservative, albeit with more independence with time. Obama’s historic election and the immense economic dangers now facing the nation have clearly influenced his outlook, just as they have been two recurring themes in recent interviews.

“His election confirms our creed…His Inauguration is a renewal event,” Gregg said of the new president in December. More recently, he was impressed by Obama’s analysis of the economic crisis before a Senate Republican luncheon last week.

“His presentation was a tour de force. It was surely impressive and it was comprehensive,” Gregg said later. “I felt much better he had such a comprehensive understanding of what I see as the issue. He’s clearly moving forward aggressively on all the different fronts.”

No doubt Obama will need Gregg to help uneasy moderate senators be okay with how the stimulus plan will be spent in the public and private sectors.

So maybe Richardson stepping out of contention for the job was a blessing in disguise?

More as it develops…