GOP Plays Offense in Connecticut

While the GOP is still playing defense in many parts of the country, including some states where Republican senators are facing reelection or the party is defending open Senate seats, the party is on offense in Connecticut.

As The Hill's Aaron Blake shows, new polling has Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) losing to a potential Republican challenger. Time magazine says Dodd faces "a backyard rebellion," while Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post's "The Fix" noted today that "Dodd's Troubles Continue."

These latest numbers are backed up by a January Quinnipiac poll in which 51 percent of respondents said they would not vote for Dodd in 2010.

Many of Dodd's electoral challenges come from Dodd himself. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee (a committee that, as Rome was burning, was not the priority to Dodd that his presidential campaign was), Dodd has benefited to the tune of $75K from a mortgage from Countrywide, described by Time's Jay Newton-Small as "one of the biggest pushers of the sub-prime mortgages that have landed the U.S. economy in such dire straits." Can you say "housing crisis"?

Speaking of housing, Dodd's decision to move his entire family to Iowa in the weeks before that state's caucus didn't exactly endear him to Connecticut voters.

But you can't be somebody with nobody. Fortunately for the GOP, the state has not been afraid to elect Republicans statewide — current Gov. Jodi Rell is a Republican — and there are at least two strong candidates who appear to be waiting in the wings.

The new polling numbers show Dodd losing to former Rep. Rob Simmons 43-42. Simmons, who lost his swing district in the 2006 anti-Republican wave by a mere 83 votes, now serves as the state's business advocate.

An intriguing name has also surfaced: that of Larry Kudlow, the economist and CNBC host. Kudlow's knowledge of the economy and markets — and his willingness to call himself an unabashed capitalist — have earned him a legion of fans. He could be a fundraising powerhouse.

Kudlow has expressed interest in Dodd's Senate seat, as has Simmons, and perhaps signaled that he is thinking about more than just economics in a National Review piece criticizing President Obama's reversal of President Bush's policy on federal funding of stem cell research.

We don't yet know what the political environment will be in 2010, but there is little doubt Connecticut is in play.

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