Sen. Chris Dodd retires; second top Democrat to exit in last 24 hours

Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) on Wednesday announced that he will not seek another term after facing a tough reelection bid.

Dodd is the second prominent Democratic senator in the past 24 hours to announce his retirement. North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan announced on Tuesday that he would also retire, giving Republicans an advantage in his state.


After a nearly 30-year rise to prominence in the Senate, Dodd was facing an increasingly difficult reelection bid and pointed local press coverage of an alleged sweetheart mortgage that he received from Countrywide. Dodd's role in approving billions of dollars in bonus money for AIG as Banking Committee chairman bolstered attacks that the senator was too close to the industry he regulated.

Dodd also took a major hit to his popularity with Connecticut voters after moving his family to Iowa as part of a failed 2008 presidential bid.

But Dodd’s decision not to run may not leave Democrats in as much of a bind as Dorgan’s decision to retire.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) was to announce his candidacy for Dodd's seat Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Blumenthal is one of the most popular politicians in the state and his interest in running has been a widely known ambition for years. Blumenthal originally expressed interest in running against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I).

Former Rep. Rob Simmons and wealthy businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling it out for the Republican nomination, but Blumenthal is considered a favorite in match-ups with both possible Republican nominees.

With Dodd in the race, Simmons held an 11-point lead over Dodd in a November Quinnipiac poll and McMahon was statistically tied with Dodd.

Simmons issued a statement after Dodd dropped out in which he said he will remain in the race to fight the Democratic agenda.

"Today's announcement does not change my plan to seek and win the Senate seat from Connecticut," he said. "Whoever the Democratic nominee is, he or she will have to defend the failed Democratic policies of higher taxes, bigger government, exploding debt, and a misguided approach to national security that treats terrorists as mere criminals rather than the enemy combatants that they are."

Jordan Fabian contributed to this report.