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Representative John M. McHugh, a Republican congressman from New York, will be nominated by President Obama to be secretary of the Army, according to officials, as the administration continues to reach into the ranks of the opposition for executive appointments.
McHugh is the ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, and his upstate New York congressional district includes Fort Drum. His voting record has been right-of-center, but not fringe: Progressive Punch rates him as the 23rd most progressive member of the GOP caucus.
This is the latest in a series of Republican appointments by the President, who just last month tabbed Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to be ambassador to China.
The open seat which will be created by the McHugh appointment will be filled via special election, presumably in the early Fall. The district is, on the surface, a swing district. Barack Obama carried the 23rd district by a five point margin (52-47). George W. Bush carried the district twice. Also, the region housed within the lines of the 23rd district has not elected a Democrat to the House in around a quarter of a century.
However, upstate New York has been toxic for Republicans over the last two cycles. They have lost a total of four seats here of the six that they held prior to 2006 (five of seven if you count the 19th district). For a reference point, the nearby 20th district (which Kirsten Gillibrand held and Scott Murphy kept in the recent special election) actually was marginally better for the GOP in 2008.
It, of course, is too early for declared candidates, but the good folks over at Swing State Project already have some candidate names being bandied about.
Aside from the intrigue of (possibly) picking up another House seat, there is one nagging annoyance about this announcement. Progressives could easily be forgiven for having a little visceral reaction to another key national security post being delegated to a Republican.
McHugh may prove to be an inspired choice, but there is no better way to perpetuate that shopworn Cheney-esque meme that Democrats can't be trusted with national security than repeatedly refusing to trust a Democrat with top-tier national security positions.
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 08:50 AM PDT.