By Sam Youngman - 06/03/09 02:50 PM EDT
President Obama is seeking to add a fourth Republican to his administration, naming former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wednesday's announcement comes just more than 24 hours after the president nominated Republican Rep. John McHugh (N.Y.) to be secretary of the Army, and about three weeks after he announced that Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will be his ambassador to China. Former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) serves as Transportation Secretary.
McHugh's appointment could serve Democrats well, giving them an opportunity to pick up another House seat.
The appointment of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) as Commerce secretary, which wound up falling apart, would have removed a strong incumbent and left an open seat (though Gregg announced his retirement anyway after withdrawing his nomination). And Huntsman’s nomination effectively removes him as a potential 2012 GOP challenger to Obama.
Leach, a 30-year veteran of Capitol Hill, founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus, according to a White House statement.
He lost in a considerable upset in 2006 to Democrat David Loebsack. He is currently a professor at Princeton University.
"I am confident that with Jim as its head, the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue on its vital mission of supporting the humanities and giving the American public access to the rich resources of our culture," Obama said in a statement. "Jim is a valued and dedicated public servant and I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”