Chris Dodd has has a pretty bad 18 months, with each passing day Dodd’s hold on the Senate seat he has held for almost 30 years grows more tenuous. As the Chair of the Senate Banking committee he deserves a share of of the blame for the economic mess we are in now, on top of that, are the recent scandals in which he has been involved.
September of 2008 saw the disclosure that the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Received TWO VIP Loans from Sub-Prime Lender Countrywide Inc. The Loans were at favorable interest rates. Senator Dodd claimed he didn’t know he was receiving a “sweetheart” deal.
In February, we learned of a new “funky” friendship in the life of the Connecticut Senator. At the end of a the Clinton presidency he secured a presidential pardon for Edward R. Downe, convicted of tax and securities fraud eight years before. No one mentioned at the time that Downe and Dodd were partners in a real estate deal, or that a different partner of Downe’s William “Bucky” Kessinger, had was involved in another land deal with Dodd. Of course Dodd hadn’t revealed that at the time. I guess he didn’t have to, since the true ownership wasn’t on the deed.
Then there was that little lie about the AIG bonuses, as he first denied to CNN and then admitted to the fact that he placed the clause in the stimulus bill allowing the AIG executives to receive bonuses.
July saw the revelation of another lie. Despite their denials, Senator Chris Dodd along with another influential Democratic Senator Kent Conrad were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from Countrywide Inc one of the nation’s largest lenders. This revelation came from Robert Feinberg, the official who handled their loans in testimony to congress.
At the same time all of these scandals have been happening, Chris Dodd has been the dutiful democrat, pushing through the Porkulus and a key player on healthcare. The problem is that Connecticut voters are not stupid, and they also don’t like to be lied to. Additionally, Connecticut is home to many insurance companies, Dodd’s health care plans may be a death knell to a major industry in his home state further alienating voters from the Senator.
With all that going on it is no surprise that the Washington Post and the NY Times are both reporting that Chris Dodd is going to retire to a nice cottage in Ireland that he bought with a “Special Loan.
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.
Dodd’s retirement comes after months of speculation about his political future, and amid faltering polling numbers and a growing sense among the Democratic establishment that he could not win a sixth term. It also comes less than 24 hours after Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced he would not seek re-election.
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.)
Without Dodd as a foil, Republicans chances of taking over a seat in this solidly blue state are considerably diminished. Former Rep. Rob Simmons and wealthy businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling it out for the Republican nod but either would start as an underdog in a general election matchup with Blumenthal.
Dodd’s retirement comes roughly two years after his presidential ambitions came to an end in the Iowa caucuses. Dodd, always a longshot in a field filled with better known and better financed candidates, had moved his family to the Hawkeye State in the fall of 2007 in hopes of generating some excitement for his bid. The move backfired on the Democratic incumbent as many Connecticut voters bristled.
Dodd’s political problems were further compounded later in 2008 when it was reported that he had been included in a special VIP mortgage loan program by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd insisted he was unaware of his inclusion and he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee but the political damage was done.
Once among the safest of incumbents, Dodd’s numbers plummeted in the spring of 2009 before rebounding somewhat over the summer. But, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last year showed significant slippage for Dodd and led to widespread speculation that he had to vacate the seat for his party to have a chance at retaining it in the upcoming midterm elections.
Dodd’s troubles were politically ironic, coming at a time when his power on Capitol Hill had reached a breath-taking level that most legislators dream of but never come close to achieving. In the last 18 months Dodd has been the primary author or co-author of legislation re-writing housing mortgage rules; the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street; key portions of the $787 billion stimulus package; a consumer protection bill overseeing the credit card industry; and the nearly $900 billion health-care legislation that has passed the Senate is in final negotiations with the House now.
Much of this work was done through his chairmanship of the Senate banking committee, but he also held powerful posts on the health and foreign relations committees. With each major piece of legislation Dodd ushered into law in recent years, came criticism that he did not anticipate. The mortgage bill came in mid-2008, which some said was delayed because of Dodd’s presidential aspirations, and the financial bailout became one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation passed in recent memory. His work on the stimulus bill, approved last February, was an attempt to rein in executive compensation at firms that had been bailed out, but instead led to sharp criticism when executives at AIG, the largest recipient of taxpayer dollars, still received seven-figure bonuses shortly thereafter.
Senator Dodd Will Not Seek Re-election, Democrats Say WASHINGTON — Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the embattled Connecticut Democrat who was facing an increasingly tough bid for a sixth term in the Senate, has decided to step aside and not seek re-election, Democrats familiar with his plans said Wednesday.
Mr. Dodd, 65, will announce his decision at a news conference later in the day in Connecticut.
The decision came a day after another Democratic senator, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, also announced that he would not seek re-election this November. That decision was a blow to Democrats and offered an immediate opening to Republicans.
In this case, Mr. Dodd was already considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election this November, and party officials had been privately hoping he would step aside. His move opens the way for the state’s highly popular attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, to run. Democrats and Republicans said he would be a much stronger candidate in what is a Democratic state.