Player of the Week: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is nearing the end of his political career, but not before he will help pass another landmark piece of legislation.

The 111th Congress has been very challenging for the Banking Committee chairman. He lost his sister last July, and a month later his good friend, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), died.

Dodd also battled cancer last year and said at his retirement announcement in January that “in the midst of all this, I found myself in the toughest political shape of my career.”

With the political winds blowing against incumbents, Dodd would have been an underdog to retain his seat this November.

It would have been very easy to portray Dodd as a Washington insider, having been elected to Congress in 1974. On top of that, Dodd helped craft the 2008 bailout bill.

But being an insider has its advantages.

As a veteran of Washington politics, Dodd helped revive both the healthcare reform bill and the financial regulatory measure back to life. He knew when to reach out to Republicans, and when to battle them.

Dodd reveres the Senate, and he has lashed out at members who have made the upper chamber more vitriolic. During a floor speech late last year, Dodd criticized the Senate’s “newest members” for their behavior.

In an interview with The Hill, Dodd said his effort to pass financial regulatory reform is more than just cleaning up Wall Street.

“I wanted to demonstrate and prove, if to no one else but myself, that this Senate is not on some trajectory downward that’s irreversible,” Dodd said.

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The 65-year-old senator said he has no regrets about retiring.

“We all know when to get into this business, or you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t,” Dodd said. “I think very few know when to get out.”

The Congress will have a lot more “outsiders” next year, but it will be extremely difficult to fill the void of Dodd, a legislator’s legislator.