By Brian Beutler
So it looks like this is really about to happen. Here are my original thoughts on the move, but Dylan Matthews, a native New Hampshirean, insists that his Democratic governor, John Lynch, has deeply ingrained Broderish tendencies, and will appoint a Republican to replace Gregg, keeping the Democratic caucus one member shy of the elusive (and over-hyped) 60-vote majority.
Surely, I thought, there’s no way Obama would’ve made this move this without first seeking an assurance from Lynch that he’d appoint a Democrat to the seat. And perhaps Dylan’s wrong and he did. But there are a couple of other possibilities. One is that this is all a major bluff, and Obama’s buying Gregg’s vote on the stimulus by helping him scare Republicans in to thinking they might lose his seat.
The other is a bit more complicated. The Senate’s taking up the stimulus package on Monday, and a final vote should come shortly thereafter. Right now, 58 of the 99 seated members of the Senate are Democrats. Assuming Democratic unanimity (a big assumption) that means they need two Republicans to defect to get the stimulus past a cloture vote. If Gregg’s seat is vacant, they only need one. If Gregg’s seat is filled by somebody (Democrat or Republican) on strict orders to vote for it, they still only need one. It’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on, but it’s pretty clear that this whole charade is really about a single vote. And that means Obama the Democrats are at least somewhat worried that this thing really might not pass.