Chris Dodd has has a pretty bad 18 months,With each day Senator Chris 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 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.
So it leads to a key question. Is Chris Dodd going to throw his hat in the ring, or retire to that nice cottage in Ireland, that he bought with a “Special Loan?”
The Who, What, When And How of A Dodd Exit Strategy
By Shira Toeplitz, CQ-Roll Call Shira Toeplitz, Cq-roll Call – Mon Dec 14, 5:59 pm ET
The rumor mill was rampant last week with murmurs that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who trails Republicans in every public poll testing his re-election prospects in Connecticut, might be ready to announce he will retire instead of seek another term next year. Although Democratic leadership aides and those close to Dodd insist he is running for re-election and his fundraising is still strong, there’s no harm in dissecting a possible exit plan for the endangered Nutmeg State Senator.
How Would He Go?
If Dodd were to resign from office (again, party insiders say it’s still unlikely at this point), most Democrats agree he would leave for a post in the administration. The state legislature and Gov. Jodi Rell (R) passed a law this summer that removed the governor’s appointment powers. If Dodd leaves before his term is up, the Democratic-controlled state legislature will pick a successor to serve until January 2011.
When Would He Leave?:
According to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office, the filing deadline is 4 p.m. on June 8, 2010. More importantly, Democrats cannot and likely would not wait this long. If Dodd is going to announce a resignation or retirement, he will have to do so much earlier than June in order for candidates to raise the necessary funds. Fundraisers familiar with the state say that a candidate would need to get into the race in March at the latest in order to begin raising a large sum of money for a competitive campaign.
Who Would Run Instead?
Most of last week’s rumors regarding a Dodd retirement included longtime state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as a possible successor. Blumenthal has served in his current capacity since 1990, and is still popular with Nutmeg State voters. But given Connecticut’s stringent campaign finance laws, Blumenthal would start his campaign fund with a zero balance. Blumenthal has been in office so long he would have no problem raising a great deal of money — he would just be forced to do so at a fast clip.
Who Else Could Run?
Money matters in this Senate contest because Connecticut is an expensive state, plus former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon has said she is willing to spend up to $50 million of her own money — a nearly impossible sum for any Democrat or Republican to match. If Blumenthal doesn’t want to run for Senate or can’t raise the money, Democratic leaders would likely look first towards the state’s congressional delegation. According to CQMoneyLine, Democratic Reps. Joe Courtney and Jim Himes have about $1 million they could transfer to a Senate bid. The member of the delegation most often discussed as having statewide potential, Democrat Chris Murphy, reported having $706,000 at the end of September. The two longtime Democrats in the delegation, Reps. John Larsen and Rosa DeLauro, had $625,000 and $51,000 in the bank, respectively. However, if Democrats really want a money man in the race, they could look to lure businessman Ned Lamont, their 2006 Senate nominee, to swap out his gubernatorial bid for another Senate campaign next year.
Who Would Ask?
Dodd is the ninth most senior Senator in the chamber and his stature cannot be overlooked when it comes to figuring out who in the Democratic Caucus might be best positioned to deliver the message if it comes to having to ask Dodd to step aside (again, an option Connecticut Democrats completely rebuff). This technically falls under the purview of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez) (N.J.), but it’s unlikely he alone would make the ask. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is also not in a strong position to ask Dodd to step aside, given Reid’s own re-election numbers are about as bad as Dodd’s are.
Who’s More Likely to Ask Him to Retire?
There are two possibilities: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and, to a lesser extent, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Biden has been an active fundraiser for Dodd, and even called him his “best friend” during yet another campaign trip for him in Connecticut. Although Schumer is more junior that Dodd, he holds a leadership position in the Senate and is considered to be the master of campaigns among his colleagues. Ironically, one Connecticut insider pointed out there was only one man who could have successfully asked Dodd to step down from his seat: The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who was by far his closest friend in the chamber.