The Judd Gregg Project

Now that Sen. Judd Gregg has confirmed that Obama administrations are putting him through the feelers for the Commerce Secretary job, we should pause to untangle the various political ramifications.

The White House isn't commenting, but my understanding that Gregg is a leading candidate for the job, not just a regular candidate.

On the surface, Gregg's nomination would help the administration bolster its bipartisan credentials. Gregg, a budget hawk, might been seen as the budget-cruncher's advocate inside the administration. Blue Dog Democrats and moderate Republicans would be satisified that the Obama Administration is serious about reforming the budget project and committed to fiscal discipline.

Under the surface, there are fears.

Republican politicos don't want Gregg to abandon the party and potentially give Democrats their 60th seat. They figure that New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) is certain to appoint a fellow Democrat to replace him for the duration of his term, which ends in 2010.

But Lynch doesn't have those partisan proclivities. He is very sensitive to the coalition in New Hampshire he has built. And he might -- just might -- find an acceptable Republican or independent to fill the seat.

The White House understands that Gregg's successor might be a Republican; Gregg understands that the White House does not object to this possibility, which is one reason why Gregg is taking the call to serve so seriously.