Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg

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Mike Theiler / EPA / Corbis

Senator Judd Gregg.

President Barack Obama swung and missed with his first choice for Commerce Secretary, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democratic stalwart who withdrew his candidacy amid a grand-jury investigation. If that selection was partly spurred by a desire to reward an influential campaign endorsement, Obama's second stab at filling the post looks like a nod to his campaign promise of bipartisan governance. On Feb. 3, Obama reached across the aisle to tap Judd Gregg, a three-term GOP Senator from New Hampshire who, if confirmed, would be the third Republican in the Obama Cabinet. But Obama's latest olive branch is also a political calculation. While Gregg wielded significant power as the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, the Commerce Department is viewed as a Cabinet backwater—a notion bolstered by Gregg himself, who in 1995 supported a nonbinding resolution that would abolish the very department he has agreed to run. Bonnie Newman, Gregg's former chief of staff, was appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

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Fast Facts:

• Gregg, 61, comes from political stock: His father, Hugh Gregg, was elected governor of New Hampshire when Judd was five.

• Married, with two daughters and a son

• After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, Gregg matriculated at Columbia University, earning his degree in English in 1969. He later earned a J.D. and master of laws in taxation from Boston University.

• Received a medical deferment from the Vietnam War

• Before winning election to the U.S. Congress, where he served four terms beginning in 1981, Gregg helped spearhead the New Hampshire presidential primary campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush

• Elected governor of New Hampshire in 1988 and, after serving two two-year terms, won election to the U.S. Senate in 1992.

• The first elected official in New Hampshire history to serve as a U.S. congressman, governor and senator. Gregg has never lost a political campaign

• Served as a stand-in for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 during George W. Bush's presidential debate prep

• In 2003, Gregg's wife, Kathleen, was abducted from the couple's suburban Washington, D.C. home at knife-point, driven to a local bank and forced to withdraw money. She was unharmed in the incident

• Insisted that he would not accept the Commerce nomination if New Hampshire Governor John Lynch intended to appoint a Democrat to the Senate seat he would be vacating, a development that—depending on the outcome of the court challenge to Al Franken's apparent U.S. Senate victory in Minnesota—could have given a Democrats the 60-seat majority needed to force legislation through the Senate

• Gregg, a multi-millionaire, won more than $850,000 playing Powerball in 2005 after buying about $20 worth of lottery tickets

Quotes about:

• "Part of the reason why he wins is that he's not afraid to lose. He'd rather lose for the right reasons than win for the wrong ones."
-Tom Rath, New Hampshire National Republican Committee member. Columbia College Today, July 2005.

• "He has a very low-key non-confrontational style. He gets along with Democrats."
-Linda Fowler, professor of government at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Bloomberg News, Feb. 3, 2009

• "Sen. Gregg could be an excellent Secretary of Commerce. He understands the problems business faces and the dangers that further tax increases and regulation mean for business and the nation. He would no doubt have to speak loudly if he wants his voice heard in an Obama Cabinet."
-Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, in an editorial published on Jan. 31, 2009

"I guess if you can't destroy it, go be in charge of it."
-A Republican Senate aide, on the irony of Gregg's 1995 vote to abolish the Commerce Department. Congressional Quarterly, Feb. 2, 2009.

Quotes by:

• "I don't think I came here to be a potted plant."
-Replying to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's remark, made in January 2007, that Gregg was "the designated 'see-if-we-can-mess-up-the-legislation' guy this year." Almanac of American Politics, 2008

• "This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other. This is a time to govern and govern well."
-Speaking during his introductory press conference, Feb. 3, 2009

• "He's a blank page."
-Expressing concerns about Obama's inexperience. The American Spectator, July 17, 2008

• "The Ledbetter bill, while well intentioned on its surface, is really a boon for trial lawyers, which dramatically broadens their ability to file lawsuits, regardless of how frivolous or whether their clients even personally experienced discrimination."
-Explaining his vote against the Fair Pay Act designed to ensure equal compensation for both sexes. Nashua Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2009

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