I'm not upset that Lynch nominated a Republican -- Gregg wouldn't have departed without a pledge to do so. While it might've been nice to raise the profile of some bright young Democrat by putting him/her in the cabinet, Commerce is sort of a backwater. And it's good to get Gregg out of the way. As Nick said: "In the 110th Congress, Gregg was the 15th most conservative Senator, which is impressive except that he 10th in the 108th, 9th in the 107th, and 2nd (!) in the 109th."
By yesterday, speculation centered on Bonnie Newman, a North Hampton Republican who has high-profile ties to Gregg and Lynch. The former University of New Hampshire and Harvard dean worked for Gregg when he was a congressman before going on to work for Presidents Reagan and Bush. In 2004, Newman crossed party lines to become an early Republican backer of Lynch.
Newman, 63, did not return calls for comment to her home and office yesterday, but Republicans across the spectrum cheered the idea yesterday.
"I am a fan. She has impeccable Republican credentials," said former Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen, citing her ties to Gregg, Reagan and Bush. "She's thoughtful. She's pragmatic. She's not an ideologue."
Peterson called Newman a "centrist Republican of the old school, with an appreciation for some of the issues that they are more tolerant on."
No one, however, claimed to know exactly where Newman stands on political issues such as abortion and taxes.
Now, at this point in the day and year, we have only fuzzy probabilities to work from regarding Bonnie Newman. But compared to Gregg, I'm willing to accept the whole set of coin flips she represents, in terms of her political views, willingness to run again, and electability if she does.
Digression: In the Politico article on Gregg, Trent Lott eats his foot again, though fortunately in a non-racist way. Says Lott, "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." Read that first sentence again -- the only way it makes sense is if average intelligence in the House is greater than in the Senate. You lose one of your dumber House guys and send him to the Senate, where he's smarter than most people there. I don't think the former Senate Republican Leader wanted to say that.
Update: Pejman Yousefzadeh sends a facebook message noting that the joke appears in John Barry's The Ambition And The Power, and it's something House members tell each other. So Lott wasn't getting things mixed up or being self-deprecating -- he was just citing somebody else's joke. Given House/Senate stereotypes, I see why the joke doesn't have especially wide currency.