[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.gregg.gi.jpg caption="Gregg said he will leave the Senate after three terms."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judd Gregg made clear Thursday he would rather serve in the Senate than in the Obama administration, but the New Hampshire Republican said he “probably” will not seek a fourth term next year.
“Will I run? Probably not,” Gregg said at a press conference after withdrawing from the Commerce post. Gregg also told the New Hampshire Union-Leader earlier in the day that he does not intend to seek re-election.
If that’s true, it likely comes as good news to New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes, the Democratic congressman who emerged as a frontrunner for the seat after Gregg first decided to take the Commerce job. Hodes announced his intention to run for the Senate seat last week.
But if Gregg has a change of heart and decides to run again in 2010, Hodes has a tougher road ahead. According to an American Research Group poll released in late December, Gregg held a 47-40 lead in a hypothetical match-up with the congressman.
Even before Gregg said Thursday he won’t run again - but after he turned down the president - Hodes made it clear he still wants the seat.
“I will be a candidate for the United State Senate in 2010,” Hodes said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “I look forward to working every day to stand up for New Hampshire as we come together to confront the economic crisis facing our nation.”
Hodes would still need to secure the Democratic nomination, and may face a primary challenge from Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is mulling her own bid.