Chris Dodd Set to Retire Tomorrow

Chris Cillizza reports:

Embattled Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) has scheduled a press conference at his home in Connecticut Wednesday at which he is expected to announce he will not seek re-election, according to sources familiar with his plans.

[...]

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is widely expected to step into the void filled by Dodd and, at least at first blush, should drastically increase Democrats' chances of holding the seat.

Blumenthal, who has served as state Attorney General since 1990, is the most popular politician in the state and has long coveted a Senate seat; he had already signaled that he would run for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012. (A sidenote: Assuming Blumenthal gets in to the race, Rep. Chris Murphy could be the long-term beneficiary as he is widely regarded as a rising star and would be at the top of the list of Democratic hopefuls to challenge Lieberman in 2012.)

This has certainly been an interesting day in politics, with a significant number of Democratic elected officials announcing that they won't seek reelection. Unlike the announcement from North Dakota and, to a slightly lesser extent, the announcement from Colorado (but perhaps more like the announcement from Michigan), this announcement may actually increase the Democrats' chances to hold on to this seat. Still, tough to see Chris Dodd go. More as we hear it...

[Update 23:53 by Nathan Empsall] Chuck Todd tweets, "NBC has confirmed @thefix's scoop about Chris Dodd's decision to retire rather than face a tough re-election battle."

Politico: Dodd To Stay At Banking

Big scoop from Politico:

Sen. Chris Dodd is expected to remain chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, two Senate insiders told POLITICO.

Dodd is expected to make the announcement Wednesday, according to sources in Connecticut and Washington.

A decision to stay at the banking panel rather than take the gavel at the Senate would be a surprise after widespread speculation that the embattled Dodd would prefer to take the top spot at the Health, Education, Pensions and Labor committee left vacant by the late Ted Kennedy. But staying at Banking would allow Dodd to be the lead player on a major overhaul of financial regulations later this fall. With Dodd staying on Banking, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would be next in line to take the Health committee chairmanship and guide that panel through the final negotiations on health care.

This comes as a bit of a surprise, given Dodd's friendship with Kennedy and his need for a poll-bolstering move, but it also seems like good news to me. Harkin's not a bad guy to have in charge of the labor committee; I'm caring less and less about Senate health care posturing in the hopes that the House takes the lead; and as iffy as Dodd may be at Banking, he's probably a better choice than the more conservative Tim Johnson (D-SD) would be. If Harkin does take the position, the embattled Blanche Lincoln will likely take over his role as Chair, a move that could help us keep her Arkansas seat in Democratic (if not progressive) hands.

There's more...

CT-Sen: Chris Dodd to announce cancer diagnosis

Senator Chris Dodd has  early-stage prostate cancer and will announce the diagnosis at a press conference this afternoon. He will undergo surgery in early August.

Dodd plans to be back at work when Congress reconvenes in September, according to an e-mail his office circulated to fellow senators. The AP obtained a copy.

Aides also said the diagnosis would not affect Dodd's plans to seek a sixth term in 2010.

Prostate cancer has a very high cure rate. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Senator Dodd.

After coasting to re-election in the past, Dodd faces what's likely to be a tough campaign next year, particularly if Republicans nominate former Congressman Rob Simmons.

There's more...

CT-Sen: Dodd's Big Gun

How involved with the 2010 cycle will President Obama be? Well, he's already pledging to help the one Democrat who probably needs it the most in his re-election effort.

From The Boston Globe via The Scorecard:

The political perils for Dodd, who is being outpolled by each of three little-known Republicans, have grown so acute that President Obama weighed in yesterday with a strong endorsement and a pledge of personal support.

"I can't say it any clearer: I will be helping Chris Dodd because he deserves the help," Obama told the Globe yesterday in a phone interview from Air Force One, as he flew to Mexico on a diplomatic trip.

"Chris is going through a rough patch," Obama said. "He just has an extraordinary record of accomplishment, and I think the people in Connecticut will come to recognize that. . . . He always has his constituencies at heart, and he's somebody I'm going to be relying on and working very closely with to shepherd through the types of regulatory reforms we need."

Classy.

There's more...

CT-Sen: Chris Dodd Tanking

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows some real trouble for Chris Dodd in Connecticut in the wake of the AIG bonus fiasco. Not only is Dodd trailing every potential Republican challenger:

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd trails former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a possible Republican challenger, 50 - 34 percent in the 2010 Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today...

Matched against two other possible Republican challengers, Sen. Dodd trails both State Sen. Sam Caligiuri 41 - 37 percent and former ambassador Tom Foley 43 - 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

...but Dodd's favorability and approval ratings have just plummeted:

...voters disapprove 58 - 33 percent of the job the Democratic incumbent is doing, his lowest approval rating ever. [...]

The incumbent's approval is down from 49 - 44 percent March 10.

Dodd gets a negative 30 - 58 percent favorability rating, compared to 39 - 12 percent favorable for Simmons with 47 percent who don't know enough to form an opinion.

In Quinnipiac's poll from a month ago, Dodd was down just 1 point. This suggests that the DK/R2000 poll from last week, which showed Dodd slightly ahead of Simmons, may have been overly sanguine or didn't fully register the impact of the attacks on Dodd over the AIG bonuses. You'll recall that Dodd had originally added an amendment to the stimulus package that was extremely tough on compensation restrictions but ended up stripping its retro-activity at the urging of Treasury and was dishonestly implicated in essentially allowing the AIG bonuses to be paid out. Dodd's real error was his reaction to these accusations where he appeared to deny then admit involvement, predictably reported as a flip flop in local media. That was at its peak during the week of March 16th (Rob Simmons laid AIG at Dodd's feet on March 19th); this poll was in the field from March 26-31. The success of the anti-Dodd campaign by the rightwing can be seen most clearly in this result from the Quinnipiac poll:

Asked which public official is most to blame for the AIG bonuses:

  • 28 percent blame former President George W. Bush;
  • 27 percent blame Dodd;
  • 20 percent blame Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner;
  • 7 percent blame President Barack Obama.

Dodd has to be seen as our most vulnerable incumbent at this point and as Chris Bowers notes, it's hard to see him recovering from this:

...if the Q-poll is correct, than this is better than the advantage Bob Casey started out with against Rick Santorum in 2005, and akin to the advantage Tom Udall started with in New Mexico in 2007. Both of those campaigns ended up in 17.36% and 22.66% blowouts respectively, as the incumbent and incumbent party never recovered. I'd be hard pressed to find any incumbent Senator that has ever recovered from a 16% deficit.

The one way to ensure that we keep the seat would be for Dodd to step aside and let CT Attorney General Richard Blumenthal jump in. Dodd has insisted that he has no intention of stepping aside but that was before a poll showed him with a double digit deficit. If subsequent polls confirm Quinnipiac's findings, I think Dodd's really got to revisit that decision.

There's more...

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