Dodd’s a Goner in Connecticut

by Brien Jackson

After landslide victories in Congressional elections in 2006 and 2008, Democrats, particularly in the Senate, are gearing up for another big year in 2010. Currently sitting at 59 members in the caucus, one vote shy of the threshold needed to invoke cloture and end debate on a bill, Democrats are looking at any number of ways to cross the 60 member line for the 112th Congress. Repulican incumbents are retiring in Ohio, New Hamshire, Missouri, and Florida, and in Pennsylvania, a pro-labor Democratic state trending even more blue over the past decade, moderate Republican Arlen Specter is being challenged from the right in the Republican Party, in no small part over Republican opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, presenting another great opportunity for Democratic gains.

So it goes without saying that Republicans will be happy to see the new Quinnipiac poll out of Connecticut, showing incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd with a paltry 33% approval rating, and losing a hypothetical 2010 match-up with former Representative Rob Simmons by 16%. For someone who is not only an incumbent, but has been a fixture in state politics for over 30 years, that’s as much of an insurmountable mountain as you’re likely to ever see. The question now is how national Democrats will respond to Dodd’s lousy numbers. If they don’t improve by the late summer, and the probably won’t, there’s likely to be fervent lobbying in back rooms all over Washington to get Dodd to retire from the Senate, maybe for an ambassadorship or to head some new think tank or whatever, as well as a lot of people in Connecticut leaning on Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run, a move that would likely preserve the seat for Senate Democrats. However, expect national Reublicans to throw a lot of money into this race, especially if Dodd is the Democratic candidate, as it represents one of their few legitimate chances for gaining seats in the Senate in 2010.

And whichever way the race shakes out, this is almost certainly Chris Dodd’s final term in the Senate.