Senator Gregg's office has released a statement announcing his withdrawal as President Obama's nominee for Commerce Secretary. Gregg, following Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM)'s lead, is the second Commerce nominee to withdraw. The position is fast turning into Obama's version of Clinton's Justice Department. Gregg's statement reads in part,
I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce... I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle. However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.
This can't be good for Gregg's image here in New Hampshire. Jonathan Singer writes at MyDD, "It's hard to believe that the Republican Gregg, who has been in public office for three decades and who is the son of a Governor, didn't know what he was getting himself into by accepting a position in the cabinet of an administration of a Democrat." Not only did Gregg flake out of his attempt to be bipartisan, he also deprived us of half our voice on the most important bill of the Congress. Maybe some in Gregg's camp will hope that by skipping the stimulus vote he avoided ticking off either side, but the way I see it, not voting and then abandoning your reasons for not voting is a very cowardly thing to do.
My Congressman, Rep. Paul Hodes (D), announced his candidacy for Gregg's open Senate seat almost immediately after Gregg's selection for Commerce was announced. I don't know if he'll stay in the race, but I hope so. Running against Gregg isn't as good as running for an open seat would have been, but this development may make it easier than it was just a few months ago. Hodes is probably our strongest candidate, electorally speaking, and his House seat shouldn't be too tough to defend. Go, Paul, go!
Update, 5:07pm: Well, the news is just coming fast and furious now. Time Magazine's Mark Halperin says that Gregg has said he's not running for re-election. So Hodes' run won't be affected after all - yippee.