Mr. McHugh, a nine-term congressman, is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and his nomination marks yet another Republican tapped by Mr. Obama for his administration. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is a holdover from President George W. Bush’s administration, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was a Republican congressman from Illinois. Mr. Obama late last month also named Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China.
As secretary, Mr. McHugh would hold the top civilian position in the Army.
The nomination would create an open congressional seat in upstate New York, though Mr. McHugh won re-election in 2008 with 65 percent of the vote. Still, Democrats may sense an opening after their candidate staged a come-from-behind win in a special election in a neighboring New York district earlier this year.
Mr. Obama made the announcement, first reported by the New York Times, at the White House just before noon on Tuesday.
In his short time as the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Mr. McHugh won praise from Democrats for his bipartisan approach. He was at the White House late last month for the signing of a defense weapons acquisition reform bill he helped Democrats shepherd through Congress.
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