LYNCH WOULD APPOINT REPUBLICAN FROM N.H…. Over the weekend, Republican pressure on Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), urging him to reject Barack Obama’s cabinet overtures, came to an abrupt end when the GOP was told Gregg’s departure would not affect the size of the Republicans’ 41-seat caucus.

And today, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) confirmed that if Gregg leaves the Senate to become Commerce Secretary, he will appoint a Republican replacement.

“We are in the midst of a national economic crisis, and it calls for cooperation on all of our parts. We all need to work together to do what is in the best interest of our country and our state.

“I have had conversations with Senator Gregg, the White House and U.S. Senate leadership. Senator Gregg has said he would not resign his seat in the U.S. Senate if it changed the balance in the Senate. Based on my discussions, it is clear the White House and Senate leadership understand this as well.

“It is important that President Obama be able to select the advisors he feels are necessary to help him address the challenges facing our nation.

“If President Obama does nominate Senator Gregg to serve as Commerce Secretary, I will name a replacement who will put the people of New Hampshire first and represent New Hampshire effectively in the U.S. Senate.”

I think the key phrase here is “the advisors he feels are necessary.” Lynch seems to be saying that Obama wants Gregg on the team, and if Gregg won’t leave the Senate without assurances about a Republican replacement, the president won’t have exactly who he wants. Lynch, in other words, is saying he has no choice — he’s doing this for the president.

I’m not sure I buy that, but that’s his argument and he’s sticking to it.

So, if the deal with Gregg goes through, who’s likely to get the nod? Moderate Republicans like former University of New Hampshire President Jane Ellen “Bonnie” Newman, former Sen. Warren Rudman, and former Gov. Walter Peterson have all been the subject of some scuttlebutt. Former State Representative Liz Hager, a liberal Republican, has expressed interest in the gig, and has vowed to caucus with the GOP, though Nate Silver argues she would be a fairly reliable vote for Democrats on many issues.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.