OBAMA/GREGGWASHINGTON — Senate Democrat Russ Feingold denounces as “alarmingly undemocratic” the apparent deal-making that went into picking a Senate successor to U.S. commerce secretary-designee Judd Gregg.

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.