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Right Said Judd « The Washington Independent

The surprise factor of the Republican-for-Republican Senate seat swap is obscuring a fact about the Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) nomination for commerce secretary. Gregg is extremely conservative, a throwback to the era of New Hampshire Republican dominance. President Obama, after all, was the first Democrat to win a majority vote for president in New Hampshire since LBJ in 1964. (Bill Clinton won with less than 50 percent of the vote in 1992 and 1996.) Gregg is the last New England conservative in federal office.

A little bit of proof: Gregg has been the most credible-sounding Republican voice for Social Security privatization. In 2005, he was pushing the argument that Social Security needing to be reformed, immediately, because it would be paying out more than it took in by 2011. Here’s a typical 2005 floor statement on the topic. Gregg voted for all of the Bush tax cuts, and for the Iraq War. When George W. Bush was preparing for his debates with Al Gore and John Kerry, his debating partner was… Judd Gregg. Someone like Gregg probably couldn’t have won a federal election in New Hampshire in 2006 or 2008, if he was starting from scratch. Gregg got lucky in 2004, his only election of the Bush era, because his Democratic opponent left the race after his campaign manager stole his money, and the Democratic replacement was adorable-but-unelectable 94-year-old campaign finance reform activist Granny D.

It’s possible that Bonnie Newman, Gregg’s likely Republican replacement in the Senate, will be as conservative as him. Not likely, but possible. Even if she is, though, she comes to the Senate without Gregg’s deep understanding of how it works, and faces a possible 2010 election without a fundraising machine. Tim Fernholz has more.

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