WASHINGTON (CNN) –Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is the leading candidate to become commerce secretary and a decision could come as soon as Monday, an Obama administration official told CNN Saturday.
Gregg said in a statement Friday that he was among those being considered for the post, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that "a final decision had not been made."
"I know that's something that he [President Obama] hopes to make a decision on and announce shortly. But until the President tells me to make a personnel announcement from this podium, I'll refrain from getting into individual names on that," Gibbs said at Friday's press briefing.
The administration official Saturday spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss administration deliberations.
The nomination of Gregg to be commerce secretary could result in a victory for Democrats in the Senate. If New Hampshire's governor, a Democrat, were to appoint a Democrat to replace Gregg in the Senate, that could give Senate Democrats the 60-seat majority needed to overcome Republican attempts to use filibusters to block legislation.
However, two New Hampshire Republican Party sources have suggested to CNN that Gov. John Lynch is careful to appeal to Republicans and might be open to appointing a Republican to "follow the will of the people," according to one of the sources.
President Barack Obama first nominated New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be commerce secretary. But earlier this month Richardson withdrew, citing the distraction of a federal investigation into ties to a company that has done business with his state.
Richardson told reporters he underestimated how long the investigation would take, calling it an "untenable delay" likely to hinder the confirmation process.
Gregg, a third-term senator known for being fiscally conservative, is up for re-election in 2010.
(Updated Saturday afternoon with additional information)