WASHINGTON - Local Congressman Rep. John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, was tapped by President Barack Obama for the cabinet level Secretary of the Army vacancy June 2. If confirmed, McHugh would not only add another member of the GOP to the Democratic President's cabinet, but would also result in a vacancy in yet another upstate congressional seat.
McHugh is the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and represents New York's 23rd Congressional District which includes most of the Adirondack region including all or parts of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties.
His district includes the city of Plattsburgh, as well as communities surrounding the Army installation, Fort Drum.
"It is his service over the past 16 years in Congress as a champion for our men and women in uniform that uniquely qualifies him to lead our army," Obama said at a White House press conference June 2. "Just ask the soldiers he has always fought for in his district at Fort Drum."
If confirmed, McHugh would give Bush Administration hold-over Secretary of Defense Robert Gates another moderate GOP voice at the Pentagon.
"John is committed to keeping America's Army the best trained and the best supplied for many years," Obama said. "John knows that we must reform the way the Pentagon does business - as Secretary he will lead our push to save taxpayers millions of dollars."
For his part, McHugh feels the job transcends party politics.
"Although we have our political differences, at the end of the day, Republican and Democrats will work for the common good," McHugh said. "I am nothing more than the latest in a growing line of individuals of differing political persuasions who have been provided by President Obama the opportunity to head and answer to new important and challenging problems facing this country."
McHugh's nomination continues the Obama Administration's practice of plucking moderate Republicans for cabinet-level seats. Shortly after the news of McHugh's nomination, area politicians praised the President's choice.
"As a senator and assemblywoman, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Congressman John McHugh on many issues important to the North Country," said state Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little, R-Queensbury. "He has always come through with help whenever I asked. I have valued our friendship as much as our professional relationship.
"Today's news of his nomination as Secretary of the Army is very exciting," Little continued. "While I am going to miss having him represent and serve our region, I am looking forward to seeing him serve our entire nation. His credentials and his leadership ability are superb and I have no doubt in his ability to do a tremendous job."
McHugh will likely begin the Senate confirmation process over the next week.