At “The Fix”, his Washington Post blog, Chris Cillizza writes:
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.
Lots more time to enjoy that fabled Irish cottage. It’s probably worth flashing back to this video from December of last year, when the congressional Democrats’ excess and overreach was increasingly accelerating into hyperdrive, complete with a cameo from Dodd almost explaining what caused the financial meltdown last year:
Update: As Cillizza notes above, Dodd’s retirement could likely strengthen what could have been a vulnerable seat for the left in November, and Public Policy Polling (HT: H/A) tweeted almost immediately after news of Dodd’s pending retirement announcement broke, “Our CT polling is confirming a Blumenthal/Dodd swap would make the seat uber safe for Dems.”
Spin? Hypersonic late night insta-polling? Based on previous polling results? I don’t know, but as Ed Carson of Investor’s Business Daily writes regarding how the surprisingly close race for the late Teddy Kennedy’s race in nearby Massachusetts has the potential for awakening the left, “Shh, You’ll Wake Up The Dems.”