Congressman John McHugh has been nominated today by President Obama to become the nation’s 25th Secretary of the Army. McHugh, a Republican from Pierrepont Manor, has represented New York’s 23rd Congressional District since January 1993. He is currently ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
On the House Armed Services Committee, McHugh succeeded his predecessor in the district dominated by the Fort Drum, David O’Brien Martin. Since 1993 McHugh has worked his way up through Republican ranks until assuming the position of ranking member in this year’s 111th Congress upon the retirement of former Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter.
Despite serving on the committee over the course of the Iraq war, McHugh never lost popular support in his increasingly Democrat-leaning district. He forged alliances with New York Democrats serving on Congressional Armed Services Committees, Senator Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. He would leave the committee shortly after Congressman Scott Murphy of the neighboring 20th District joined.
As a position, the Secretary of the Army is a direct descendent of the Secretary of War, which was a Cabinet-level position from 1789 until 1947. In that year the office was renamed Department of the Army, and brought together with the other armed services under the Department of Defense.
Approval of McHugh’s nomination by the US Senate would set the stage for another special congressional election in the Adirondacks, and a probable short tenure for the eventual victor. The district will likely face a severe reconfiguration, if not outright elimination following the upcoming 2010 census and reapportionment fight.