Republican Senators Express Confidence That Judd Gregg’s Departure Would Not Shift Senate Balance

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) has emerged as the top candidate to be chosen by President Obama to lead the Commerce Department. On the Sunday shows this morning, Gregg’s conservative colleagues in the Senate braced for his departure.

The loss of Gregg’s Republican Senate seat would “have the potential to tip the balance of power in the Senate: New Hampshire’s governor [John Lynch], a Democrat, could name a Democrat to succeed Gregg.” The addition of one more Democrat would give Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Yet, Republican senators this morning indicated that Gregg would not be replaced by a Democrat.

Here’s what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on CBS:

MCCONNELL: Sen. Gregg has assured me if this were to happen…it would not change the make-up of the Senate. In other words, whoever is appointed to replace him would caucus with Senate Republicans. So I think it would have no impact on the balance of power in the Senate.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the minority whip, said, “I’m not sure we would” lose a seat if Judd Gregg left the Senate. Kyl added that there’s “no deal,” but “I’m just suggesting Sen. Gregg clearly has thought this through.”

And on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) added, “I’m sure Sen. Gregg would not leave his seat if he thought a Democrat would take his seat. I just know he would not do that.” Watch a compilation video:

Former New Hampshire Republican Committee Chairman Fergus Cullen did not express the same confidence as the Republican senators. “There’s no question in my mind Lynch would appoint a Democrat,” Cullen said. “I think it is foolish for any Republican to think otherwise … (Lynch) does not have a track record of appointing lots of Republicans to important positions in state government.”


J. Bonnie Newman is being discussed as a possible replacement.

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