Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dorgan and Dodd Will Not Seek Re-election, Nader Ponders Entering Senate Race

Democratic Senators are dropping like flies over the last few days. Both Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) are retiring from the Senate and will not seek re-election bids in 2010. In an election year that is already said to be tight for Democrats, these announcements put a big question mark on if these Senate seats will be able to remain blue.

So who are so-called "winners" and "losers" of these decisions? Glenn Thrush of Politico has some ideas:

Winners:

1. Joe Lieberman. Let's see, we started the year with a posse of Dems looking to pants the Connecticut Independent for demeaning Barack Obama from the podium of the Republican National Convention. Then Harry Reid and Obama intervened to save his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee -- and he rewarded them by single-handedly scuttling the public option and expansion of Medicare.

Now a new gift for the independent who already has everything. Dodd's departure removes Connecticut AG Dick Blumenthal from the 2012 race, removing the gravest threat to Lieberman yet -- and explaining, perhaps, why Lieberman's Cheshire grin is especially wide these days.

3. Wall Street, Ben Bernanke and Barney Frank. Still a huge open question, but Dodd's exit throws the fast-evolving bipartisan -- yes, bipartisan -- Wall Street regulation effort into semi-disarray. It would be going too far to say that Dodd's bill will be derailed, but financial industry lobbyists and their defenders on the Hill now have an excuse to slow walk the entire process. On the other hand, voters are demanding some payback for the financial crisis and bailouts -- and want some kind of reg reform, Dodd or no Dodd.

On to the details... Dodd's bill would strip bank oversight from the Fed. Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, favors vesting that power with Fed boss Ben Bernanke, despite the Fed's poor oversight in the years leading up to the meltdown. Having Dodd on the way out might strengthen the Frank/Bernanke hand.

Losers.

3. Rob Simmons and Linda McMahon. Alas, it was too good too last. Blumenthal is as popular as any Democrat in Connecticut right now, with sky-high name recognition and a decades-long rep as a corruption fighter. The NRSC and the state party had been pulling their punches for weeks in hopes that Dodd would retain enough of a pulse to stay, wounded and ripe, in the race. That's over. While Dodd and GOP Gov. Jodi Rell tanked over the summer with below-40 percent approval ratings, Blumenthal happy number was hovering around 80 (!) percent.

That's unsustainable. But Democrats are heaving a huge sigh of relief this morning that Blumenthal is now their candidate instead of Dodd -- regardless of all the "Black Tuesday" headlines.

7. Liberals. This time next year, the Senate will have lost its two leading veteran progressives -- Ted Kennedy and Dodd. Moreover, Dodd's perceived crony relationship with Wall Street -- Angelo's List, AIG, etc. -- turned him into something of a populist crusader on credit cards and other financial regulatory matters over the last 12 months. Blumenthal has similar liberal/populist views -- even though he opposes same-sex marriage -- but he's far less connected, forceful or charismatic a liberal standard-bearer than Dodd.

The news about Chris Dodd is also interesting because the Green Party of Connecticut is strongly pushing consumer advocate and former Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader to run for a Senate seat out of Connecticut later this year. There is a Facebook Group created to this affect that has over 2,100 members that is also encouraging citizens from all over the country to call his offices and encourage him to run.

Nader has thus-far been non-committal saying that he wants to gauge the level of grassroots support before making an announcement and it is unclear how Dodd's retirement will affect Nader's decision.

2010 election buzz is heating up, so I am sure this will only get more interesting as we go along.

1 comment:

Quim said...

I heard some folks talking about this on the tube this AM. Apparently there are 6 Republicans not seeking re-election as well.