Feingold calls pick of Gregg replacement ‘undemocratic’
Feingold sees the selection as fresh ammo in his drive to amend the U.S. Constitution to require that vacant Senate seats be filled by a special election rather than a gubernatorial appointment.
President Barack Obama nominated Gregg, New Hampshire’s three-term Republican senator, as commerce secretary on Tuesday. Democratic New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch named a Republican, Bonnie Newman, as Gregg’s Senate replacement — if Gregg is confirmed, as expected, by the Democratic-led Senate.
Apparently with the blessing of Obama and Senate Democratic leaders, Gregg stipulated as a condition of accepting the nomination that he be replaced by a fellow Republican.
Gregg did so in order to preserve the Senate’s current balance of power and deny Democrats a possible 60th seat that could be used to smash Republican procedural roadblocks.
Feingold called Gregg “well qualified” for the job, but denounced the selection process of Newman, a successful businesswoman who served as Gregg’s chief of staff when the senator was in the House of Representatives.
“The apparent behind-the-scenes deal-making that went on to determine who will fill Senator Gregg’s vacancy is alarmingly undemocratic,” Feingold said.
“Once again, Americans will be represented in the Senate … by someone they had no hand in electing.”
Since Obama was elected president in November, four Senate seats have been vacated by members of the Obama administration and filled by gubernatorial appointments. They include seats held by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Feingold’s proposed constitutional amendment would require that vacant Senate seats, like those in the House, be filled by a special election.