A new name is circulating among New Hampshire politicians as a likely pick to replace US Senator Judd Gregg if he is appointed Commerce Secretary: J. Bonnie Newman, a Republican with close ties to both Gregg and the state's Democratic governor, John Lynch, and extensive Washington experience.
The White House has not announced a decision on the cabinet slot, and Democratic Governor John Lynch has revealed nothing about whom he might consider if Gregg gets the job. But Newman's resume and Lynch's appointment history make her seem like a logical possibility.
Consider: Newman served as assistant secretary of Commerce for economic development in the Reagan administration. She was in charge of administrative operations for the George H.W. Bush White House.
She was chief of staff to Gregg when he was a congressman in the 1980s, and she was one of the first Republicans to publicly endorse Lynch in his 2004 challenge of then-Republican Governor Craig Benson, and co-chaired Republicans for Lynch.
She has held a number of high-profile positions in higher education, including several important posts at the University of New Hampshire (including interim president) and executive dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has also led the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association.
That is just the kind of resume that Lynch, who emphasizes competence and experience in his appointments, would likely favor. But would a Democratic governor really appoint a Republican, especially when Gregg's departure opens the possibility of Democrats gaining a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate?
This one might. Lynch casts himself as a bipartisan politician. He appointed Republicans as his attorney general and commissioner of Environmental Services, and he endorsed a GOP state senator over a Democratic challenger (and longtime state representative) last year.
He stayed out of the presidential primary (he did take the stage with John McCain when he appeared in Hopkinton, Lynch's hometown) and he played a low-profile role in the presidential general election, even though New Hampshire was a closely fought battleground state.
If he picked Newman, Lynch would certainly irritate New Hampshire Democrats. But they might be more inclined to forgive him if Newman promises not to run in 2010, when Gregg's term is up -- which would still put them ahead of where they are now, with a relatively popular incumbent Republican in the Senate seat.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.