Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Obama taps GOP Congressman as Secretary of the Army

President Obama has appointed New York Rep. John McHugh. the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, as the next Secretary of the Army:

In tapping McHugh, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Obama sidelines yet another senior GOP lawmaker.

The veteran congressman from upstate New York joins his former colleague from Illinois, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, the Ambassador-designate to China, among the ranks of Republicans in the Obama administration, a list that nearly included Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) as Commerce Secretary. And McHugh’s appointment comes just over a month after administration officials helped push veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to switch from a Republican to a Democrat.

“The president has made an outstanding choice in John McHugh on his credentials,” said former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), who also represented upstate New York. “He’s a leading expert on Armed services that members on both sides of the aisle respect. ... On any major issue on armed services, I wanted to hear John McHugh’s opinion.”

Do Democrats have a shot at this seat with his departure? Some seem to think so:

McHugh has won re-election with ease – taking 65 percent last year — but his successor may have a more difficult time in a district that Obama carried – something that surely didn’t go unnoticed by the president’s aides.

McHugh’s departure — which leaves only two Republicans in the 29 seat New York congressional delegation — sets off a likely fight for his seat, which Obama carried over Republican John McCain in November 52 percent to 47 percent. Sources say McHugh’s chief of staff, Robert Taub, is likely to be an early frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

“This seat is one of the best opportunities for Democrats to pursue now that McHugh out of the way,” said Reynolds, who is also a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Already we’re watching the Democrats downplay their chances but make no mistake, you can bet they’ll be as forceful as this as they were in NY 20[special election].”
Sounds good to me.

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