Sen. Judd Gregg (R)
Elected: 1992, term expires 2010, 3rd term.
Born: Feb. 14, 1947, Nashua .
Education: Columbia U., A.B. 1969, Boston U., J.D. 1972, LL.M. 1975.
Family: Married (Kathleen); 3 children.
Elected office: NH Exec. Cncl., 1978–80; U.S. House of Reps., 1980–88; NH gov., 1988–92.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1976–80.
Judd Gregg, a Republican, was elected a senator from New Hampshire in 1992. He grew up in Nashua and was involved in politics early on. In 1952, when he was 5 years old, his father, Hugh Gregg, was elected governor and remained a power in presidential primary politics for many years. In 1988, Hugh Gregg provided crucial backing for Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush. He died in September 2003. Judd Gregg was a student at Columbia University during the student riots of 1968, but stayed true to New Hampshire Republicanism and didn’t partake. He graduated from Boston University law school and returned to Nashua to practice law. In 1978, at age 31, he was elected to the Executive Council, which dates to the colonial era and approves state appointments and expenditures. In 1980, he was elected to the U.S. House, where he was an eager soldier in the Reagan revolution. In 1988, he ran for governor and won handily. He was easily re-elected in 1990. During those years, New Hampshire’s housing prices and economy crashed, but Gregg resisted all efforts to impose an income tax or sales tax.
|Judd Gregg (R)||435,846||(66%)||($1,897,466)|
|Doris Haddock (D)||221,544||(34%)||($177,199)|
|Judd Gregg (R)||60,597||(92%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 1998 (68%), 1992 (48%), 1986 House (74%), 1984 House (76%), 1982 House (71%), 1980 House (64%)
In 1992, when Republican Warren Rudman retired, Gregg ran for the Senate and in his taciturn way seemed sure he would win. But with the New Hampshire economy souring, indeed in worse shape than it was in early 2009, the race turned close. In the September primary, he beat a construction-company owner by only 50%-38%. In the general election, he faced retired businessman John Rauh, a Democrat who backed the line-item veto and balanced-budget amendment and attacked Gregg for opposing abortion rights. Gregg won by an unimpressive 48%-45%.
In the Senate, Gregg accrued sufficient seniority to become chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for five months in 2001 and again from 2003 to 2005. (He was ranking Republican when the Senate was under Democratic control in 2001 and 2002.) He was the lead Senate supporter of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind education initiative and worked with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts on the details. His amendment to allow vouchers for private-school tuition was rejected in June 2001 on a 58-41 vote. In November 2001, he and Kennedy and Republican Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and George Miller of California reached a final compromise. It left in place the Bush proposal for annual testing in math and reading from grades three to eight. It allowed economically disadvantaged students to use federal funds for private tutoring and summer school. The bill passed and was signed in January 2002.
In September 2005, Gregg proposed cash grants that parents of New Orleans area schoolchildren could use in public or private schools. As a result, a larger percentage of children in the New Orleans school district are in charter schools than in any other district in the country. Gregg worked on consensus health legislation with Democrats and other Republicans—a law requiring the Food and Drug Administration to test the effects of drugs on children and a bill limiting pharmaceutical companies to one 30-month stay of an application to sell a generic drug. He got the Senate to approve FDA regulation of tobacco, together with a buyout of tobacco quotas in the 2004 corporate tax bill, although the FDA regulation was ultimately dropped from the final legislation. Gregg voted against the overall bill on the grounds that it cost too much. He co-sponsored the Biodefense Act of 2005, which promoted the development of vaccines, and a bill setting down strict criteria for plaintiffs seeking punitive damages from health care providers or medical product manufacturers. In 2003, Gregg and his New Hampshire colleague Republican Sen. John Sununu voted against the energy bill because it banned the state of New Hampshire’s lawsuit against the manufacturers of MTBE, a gasoline additive that was found to be polluting groundwater supplies. They effectively blocked the energy bill from passing that year.
In 2004, Gregg gave up the chairmanship of the HELP Committee to become chairman of the Budget Committee. He promised “very strong enforcement measures” of budget rules and sought to “put the brakes on the growth of entitlements.” In April 2005, he pushed through a budget resolution but failed to get the tight limits on Medicaid spending he had wanted. In 2003, he worked to hold the cost of the Republicans’ Medicare prescription drug bill to $400 billion over 10 years, which was the projection when it was passed. Often frustrated with the resolve of Congress to set limits in the budget, Gregg once said, “Are we going to pass budgets that mean something, or are we going to pass budgets for show?” In 2007 and 2008, back in the minority as ranking Republican on the committee, Gregg worked with Democratic Chairman Kent Conrad on trying to establish a bipartisan commission to modify entitlements.
Gregg passed up a chance to get on the Finance Committee and remained on Appropriations, where he has been more tightfisted than many of his colleagues. He has procured federal money to buy land to preserve Lake Tarleton, expand the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, and maintain the Great Bay Estuarine Research Reserve, the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, and the St. Anselm’s College civic-education program. He has gotten funding for the purchase of easement rights on the extensive lands owned by paper companies in New Hampshire and elsewhere in northern New England—a major conservation project. However, he was criticized for investing in land around the Pease Tradeport, a commercial-industrial development with an airport that he helped fund to replace a closed Air Force base. In 2007, he became the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
After Democrats won a majority in the Senate in 2006, Gregg became active on the floor in trying to stop Democratic initiatives. In December 2006, he raised objections to the $39 billion end-of-session spending bill, opposing especially its assumption of coal companies’ insurance liability, at a cost of $4 billion. In January 2007, he introduced an amendment to the Senate ethics bill giving the president line-item rescission power over earmarks in spending bills. He withdrew it when Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia threatened a filibuster. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid called Gregg “the designated ‘see-if-we-can-mess-up-the-legislation’ guy this year.” Gregg responded, “I don’t think I came here to be a potted plant.” In March 2007, when Democrats allowed Republicans a floor vote on an alternative proposal to their resolution calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, Republicans chose Gregg's resolution calling for fully funding the troops. It passed 82-16. In September 2008, Gregg was a chief Republican negotiator on the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry. He supported the bipartisan bill, explaining later, “What we were facing was the meltdown of the entire financial system of the United States.”
Gregg has maintained a network of supporters in New Hampshire, but the organization his father ran that was so effective for George H. W. Bush in 1988 has not been duplicated, and Gregg was unable to deliver a primary victory for the last three candidates he endorsed—Bob Dole in 1996, George W. Bush in 2000 and Mitt Romney in 2008. Gregg’s standing in New Hampshire seems strong. In 1998, he was opposed by an underfinanced Democrat who called him a “draft dodger” and a “wimp.” Gregg won 68%-28%. In 2004, in the general election, he had a challenge from state Sen. Burt Cohen, but Cohen eventually dropped out. New Hampshire Democrats, eager for a nominee, found Doris “Granny D” Haddock, a 94-year-old longtime leftish activist who in 2000 walked 3,225 miles across America to support campaign finance regulation. Granite Staters may have admired her pluck, but not very many voted for her. Gregg won 66%-34% and became the first New Hampshire senator elected to a third term since Norris Cotton in 1968.
In February 2009, Gregg was Democratic President Barack Obama’s surprise pick for Commerce secretary. (Gregg persuaded Democratic Gov. John Lynch to appoint a Republican to replace him in the Senate, one who would not seek a full term in 2010. Lynch named J. Bonnie Newman, a former Gregg aide and Lynch supporter.) But his philosophy and Obama’s proved too different. Gregg favored an economic-stimulus package, but opposed the Senate Democrats’ version on the grounds that it unduly increased the national debt. Another issue was equally sensitive. The Commerce Department supervises the Census Bureau, and Gregg had opposed using sampling procedures in the 2000 census. Sampling tends to increase the count in urban areas, to the disadvantage of Republicans. On February 5, apparently to mollify African-American and Hispanic Democrats who objected to Gregg’s appointment based on the census issue, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gave assurances that the director of the Census Bureau would report directly to the White House. On February 12, Gregg withdrew his name from consideration. “I’m a fiscal conservative, as everybody knows, a fairly strong one,” he said. “And it just became clear to me that it would be very difficult, day in and day out, to serve in this Cabinet or any Cabinet.”
Gregg quickly reverted to form and harshly criticized the Democratic budget in March and April 2009, predicting that it would lead to “bankruptcy for the United States” and might lead to levels of debt seen in a “banana republic.” He especially took issue with a provision that in effect would allow a health care bill to pass with a simple majority, rather than the filibuster-proof 60 votes typically necessary in the Senate. Gregg likened it to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.”
Gregg said in early 2009 that he would not run for re-election in 2010. Obama carried New Hampshire handily in 2008, and Democrats were hopeful that they could win the seat. Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes announced his candidacy. When Gregg retires from the Senate, he will at least be able to do it in comfort. In 2005, he won more than $853,000 in the Powerball lottery in New Hampshire.