This is really a fascinating development. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg is the leading candidate to become the next Commerce Secretary, a move that could happen in the next day or two, White House officials said on Saturday. Gregg is a Senator from New Hampshire, and is a Republican. That in itself is interesting, but there is another twist: the Governor of New Hampshire is a Democrat, and guess from which party Senator Gregg's replacement will come from?
The real question is why Judd Gregg is doing this: he knows the consequences of his actions: the Democrats could have a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in the Senate, not just insuring that the Democrats will be able to pass bills they want, but insuring the Republicans will be stymied at every turn.
Still, it might not be that simple.
Gregg's selection and exit from the Senate would clear the way for the New Hampshire governor, John Lynch (D), to appoint a Democrat as his replacement - giving Pres. Barack Obama the 60-vote majority he needs for a filibuster-proof majority. But Lynch, a moderate, could appoint a Republican instead, filling the seat with a caretaker senator until the next election, in 2010.
Still, this is clearly a trial balloon.
Gregg acknowledged on Friday that he was under consideration for the post. Administration officials took it a step further, saying he is atop the list to fill a job that has sat empty since New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) withdrew his nomination because of an investigation involving government contracts.
But Gregg would also bring more than bragging rights: he could help Obama sell entitlement and budget reform to a wary Congress and to the business community, of which Gregg has been a strong advocate. Gregg, a three-term senator, is former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and helped devise the $700 billion bank bailout package that passed last year.
O, to be a fly on the wall.