Sen. Dodd and Byron Dorgan To Retire

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is retiring. So is Sen. Byron Dorgan. And Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

I think CT's seat is safe with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal the likely Democratic candidate. Colorado will be safe, with numerous candidates that can beat Scott McInnis. Dorgan's seat I haven't followed, so I don't know.

I'd call it more a re-arranging of the deck chairs that ends up keeping the ship afloat than a sign the Dems are capitulating on 2010.

In other words, I'm not worried. What am I missing?

< Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Won't Seek Re-Election | Unintended Consequences And Systemic Failure >
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    They won't have 60 (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 06:15:40 AM EST
    Not that anyone really expected the Dems to keep 60.  Dodd's withdrawal actually leads to a toss-up in CT, although the Dems probably will hold the seat. Dorgan's retirement leads to a very good chance that a Republican will pick up the seat - this announcement was a complete surprise to both Reid and the White House.

    Lt. Gov. John Cherry pulled out of running for governor of Michigan, although he never had a chance there.  The state is going to have a Republican governor as of next year - maybe Rep. Pete Hoekstra?

    Ritter's announcement also came as a surprise, which will leave Dems scrambling.

    Tossup in CT? No way. It's "likely D." (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:24:04 AM EST
    OTOH, ND moves to "likely R." I think Dems are likely to keep their majority in the Senate, probably with 55+ seats. Harry Reid, for example, will lose his seat. Will they go after the filibuster next January? They should, but I doubt they will.

    This is not a year to pin hopes on vulnerable incumbents, which makes Ritter's decision a good one. He was uncomfortably behind.


    Only if (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:39:26 AM EST
    Blumenthal wants to run. You're right that it will probably remain a D, but who knows what the mood of the country will be against Dems come November.

    And if Pomeroy decides to run for Dorgan's seat, it will still probably be (at least) a Republican pickup in the House.


    Blumenthal is in and will win (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:46:11 AM EST
    ND is gone. Dorgan probably saved us a lot of trouble, because word is that Hoeven was getting into the race anyway.

    I think (none / 0) (#11)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:07:54 AM EST
    that the time to go after the filibuster is after an election that can plausibly be characterized as "the public is angry at minority obstruction."  It would be difficult to pull off a raw power play after your party has just lost seats.

    I think the filibuster project is inevitably long-term anyway, because of all the elder statesmen who care more about the traditions of the Senate than the fate of the Republic.

    By the way, it is way way too early on the West Coast.


    We could have had such an election, alas. . . (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:09:36 AM EST
    You in CA? If so, you're escaping some nasty cold back east.

    low 70s here (none / 0) (#47)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:27:54 AM EST
    sunny too

    I don't think (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:15:16 AM EST
    they will ever give up the filibuster - the majority party always rails against it as obstructionist (which is a great fundraising motivator, by the way), and the minority party always says it's necessary as a check and balance on the majority (also a great fundraising motivator).  The majority also always knows that someday they will be back in the minority and they want the filibuster available as tool they can use (see: fundraising).

    Ritter's decision (none / 0) (#49)
    by christinep on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 02:52:51 PM EST
    is now being viewed here as opening up the race in such a way as to favor Democrats. For two reasons: l. As some would say...Gov Ritter has a good gubernatorial record in terms of accomplishments, but his "political sense" left a number of people cool to cold, as witness his poll numbers. (Tho, many would argue that--under the situation of a poor economy--his numbers could well have recovered.) 2. Likely Dem replacements have considerably higher favorability records, etc.--Salazar, Hickenlooper, and even Perlmutter. (Oh, and a possibility of A. Romanoff, who is quite popular statewide, might also help.) In short: After the initial shock last night, the word in the halls and on the street seems to be something along the lines of "Uh oh, the Republicans have to revise totally their anti-incumbent campaign and the Democrats may well get a 'fresh face, without baggage, & with fire in the belly." As the local pollster Eric Sondermann said last night to the Republicans: Be careful what you wish(ed) for.

    Worried? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:01:57 AM EST
    You should be generally.

    But you should be more saddened than worried. Chris Dodd was an excellent public servant who created some of his own troubles (Countrywide) but was principally undercut by one Rahm Emanuel who pinned the AIG bonus scandal on Dodd, when it was the White House's doing.

    Agreed about Dodd (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:04:27 AM EST
    But I hadn't heard that the AIG stuff came from Rahm.

    You heard it here (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:07:46 AM EST
    The WH demanded it.

    And then let Dodd take the bullet.

    That was my point of reference about Reid, who by the way, tried to make Obama take the bullet on the public option (and the Cadillac Tax) but was only partly effective.


    Don't you think (none / 0) (#12)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:08:43 AM EST
    the applicable metaphor here at TL is not the bullet but the bus?

    A caller to the public radio program (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:36:17 AM EST
    on language seemed unclear of the concept "under the bus."  Obviously spends zip time here.

    heh (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:10:22 AM EST
    I'd like to invent a meaning for "under the bullet."

    That's when you don't take the fall (none / 0) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:15:35 AM EST
    for a bunch of people who were going to throw you under the bus eventually.

    Assigning blame preemptively? I like it. (none / 0) (#21)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:18:09 AM EST
    Well, more like telling people to (none / 0) (#28)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:27:21 AM EST
    shove it when they try to rope you into a conspiracy in which you are going to end up being the fall guy.  Dodd was dumb to have participated in the White House's attempt to protect those bonuses.  He should have told them that they were on their own.

    Heh (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:10:52 AM EST
    but no, look Dodd was a fairly ineffectual politician.

    so the reality is while he may have believed in the right things, he did not do much to get them enacted.

    In a way, his forced retirement is just. I wanted Blumenthal for Lieberman though, so I am a bit bitter about it all.


    On the bright side, (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:13:40 AM EST

    People will be excited about Chris Murphy in 2012 ... against Lieberman. Would not have been same enthusiasm for Blumenthal

    I think Dodd will have a decent legacy, though. Some kind of financial reform is going to pass, as is, ahem, health insurance assistance. And he did always (rightfully) talk up his involvement in FMLA.


    I am worried because Dorgan is (none / 0) (#23)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:22:12 AM EST
    one of only a handful of Senators who care about working people and the middle class.  I think that this retirement will be viewed through the lens of history as a confirmation that the Obama Administration and their Democratic Leadership team did not share that populist view in theory or in practice.  Not that the bills and policies thus far do not illustrate that, but when you have a guy like Dorgan retiring, you know that he's calculated that his ability to effect the change he believes in is to limited to make a difficult election worth the trouble.  I can't blame him either.  I really couldn't pick up the phone at the moment and honestly promise a prospective voter great things from this crowd - unless of course that prospective voter was the CEO of a health insurance concern or a Goldman Sachs partner.

    You should be very worried (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Slado on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:39:48 AM EST
    R's are now a +9 in generic ballot.

    Obama is below 50% approval and that is only there because people generally like him.

    The job market is not going to improve no matter what D's do.

    Congress/Senate are about to jam through a very unpopular bill politically and then might even take up Cap and Trade which is even more unpopular.

    Demas will get hammered in Nov.  It's only a matter of how much and do they loose either the Senate or House.

    I would say they will keep both but by very very slim margins and that will bog down the government which is great for everyone!

    Cycles (none / 0) (#50)
    by christinep on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:04:18 PM EST
    Let's see what April-May-June brings in the way of economic news. As you indicate, there may be nothing/close to nothing that can be done to effect job change at this point. That is not the point. There are now (and have been in the past month or so) "upticks" throughout national economic measures. If that holds and translates to job "upticks" by late spring.... Well, let's wait and see, because economy/jobs will be the ball game. Prediction: The cycle is moving up--and the Repubs may be spitting into an adverse wind.

    It's hard to tell (none / 0) (#54)
    by CST on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:44:40 PM EST
    with the economy right now.  Sometimes I feel it's improving, sometimes I feel it's a mini-bubble.

    Time will tell, and it's a long way till November.

    Although I don't buy 9% at ALL.

    Not good, but not 9%.


    More considerations (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:19:05 AM EST

    The retirements of Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan will set off a scramble among more junior senators who covet the chairmanships and senior committee positions these veteran senators have held for years.

    The top plum is Dodd's Banking Committee chairmanship, and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), a banking-industry-friendly senator, is next in line for that gavel. This chairmanship is not as meaningful going into 2011 if Dodd is able to cut a deal and move a massive financial reform bill through the Senate this year, but it's still a powerful perch for any senator during tough economic times. There has always been speculation that because of Johnson's history of health problems he could get passed over for the Banking Committee chairmanship, and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), considered a rising star in the Democratic Caucus, could also be next in line.

    Dorgan's departure leaves an opening in leadership with the chairmanship of the Democratic Policy Committee, creating an opening to any number of senators to grab a spot that is a potential steppingstone for higher Senate leadership spots. The most likely scenario is Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) -- especially if Majority Leader Harry Reid wins reelection and there's no other vacancy in leadership.

    Dorgan's departure, meanwhile, opens up the chairmanship of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee -- where he oversaw billions in spending on infrastructure and water projects. It's unclear who would take that spot --it depends on how the Appropriations Committee shakes out -- but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), whose home state benefits greatly from the energy and water spending, could grab that chairmanship.

    Dorgan is also chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee -- traditionally held by senators from states with large Native American populations -- and the next two senators in line for that gavel already hold more powerful chairmanships. So the leadership could fall to Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

    Dorgan is also the second most senior Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would be poised to move up a notch on that panel.

    And Dodd's departure also allows senators on other committees to move up the seniority ladder -- the most notable being Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has long wanted the Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship and would now be the No. 2 Democrat on that panel to Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.)

    Dodd was a good friend to Central America (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by MKS on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:32:18 PM EST
    One of the few....

    He fought against the right wingers, true fascists who supported policies that killed hundreds of thousands....

    As to Dodd, (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:57:29 AM EST
    he was suffering the backlash of his FISA vote - his fundraising was down, with nothing or next to it from the telecoms and their friends and neighbors.  He was also suffering from an old, unjustified hit relative to the banking collapse.  If ou go back a year or so, Rahm was behind the stories that the blame for a lot of it lay on Dodd, especially relative to his alleged sweetheart mortgage refi a few years ago.  I have little doubt his fundraising was getting dampened by trash-talking emanating from the White House.

    As to Dorgan, his seat will flip to R.  That simple.

    What this does is twofold:  both Dodd (to a greater degree, at least in public) and Dorgan (less out-front) were strong advocates for civil liberties and against the creeping police state we are seeing coming into the open.  They will both be replaced by people less favorable to civil liberties and more in the liberty-antipathetic conserva-dem mould which Rahm and Obama prefer. Replacing Dorgan with a Republican gives the Democrats, Harry Reid first among them, followed closely by the White House, a ready-made excuse for doing nothing to reform or otherwise change (other than in a more corporate-friendly way) anything.  They just throw up their hands and say that without 60 they can't do anything, so we either pass a Repuiblican program or nothing.  In reality, the Dems need 63 or 64 given that Lie-berman, Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln are bound to repeat their prior performance on the health care bill, and hold out for writing into any bill more graft for themselves, their states and their contributors.

    So, we see at best a maintenance and more likely an acceleration of the pace of continued corporate looting of average Americans' pockets and futures.

    In case you were wondering....  

    The WH (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:04:56 AM EST
    and other Dems would say they couldn't get anything done even if they had 80 votes.

    Dodd's problem wasn't raising money (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:59:46 AM EST
    Though I otherwise agree that it will be a shame to lose him.

    Actually, the telecoms (none / 0) (#17)
    by scribe on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:15:14 AM EST
    cut him off cold. Remember, all that goverment wiretapping is now a big profit center for them, and Dodd was against it.

    As to Dorgan, the current lead diary over at Orange Satan's house places the blame squarely on the WH and their demand that the drug reimportation Dorgan championed be removed from the health care bill .

    Makes sense to me. (And, thinking back to Ted Kennedy's funeral, did anyone notice the interpersonal chill which seemed pretty evident between Vicki Regie Kennedy and Obama, which I thought was because she knew he was going to sell out all of Teddy's work on health care over the years?)


    Dodd would have had money, (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:17:24 AM EST
    but there never could have been enough.

    Did Dorgan pull out because of reimportation? That was probably a factor that kept him from fighting it out, but the principal cause was Hoeven's likely entrance into the race.


    The reports this morning say that (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:24:41 AM EST
    he is upset about the lack of interest in creating jobs coming from the White House and the Democratic Leadership.  I am sure that the Wall Street situation isn't making him happy either.  And finally I would guess that the drug reimportation bill was important and symbolic - Dorgan is a populist interested in writing legislation that helps people - this White House likes legislation that helps corporations.

    He wants to (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:22:00 AM EST
    write books.

    heh (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:22:29 AM EST
    That was a good diary... (none / 0) (#41)
    by magster on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:05:51 AM EST
    The Times confirms (none / 0) (#25)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:24:24 AM EST
    Why? (none / 0) (#27)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:24:50 AM EST
    I don't follow Conn. politics that close but with Lieberman the "other" senator, I would think Dodd would be sitting well in comparison.
    I know the mortgage deal is an issue, but sweet heart deals on housing are hardly rare in politics. Obama got to the WH in spite of his.

    I certainly hope that it isn't because he's percieved as too liberal. The last thing we need is another blue dog senator. Or worse , another Lieberman!

    Why? Because (none / 0) (#51)
    by christinep on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:12:54 PM EST
    it is the perception about Wall Street and the Banking Committee's role, and this is not the midwest or west.  This is Connecticut where those who follow Wall Street (and ups and downs...and those who were cast out) reside and vote. In Connecticult, that effect is up-close and personal. Also: The mortgage deal brings back memories of the late father and Senator Dodd. It may be that when you put it all together with the four decades of service (or, as the opposition would portray it, entrenched position) and add in the wave of populism, Sen Chris Dodd had to overcome a tidal wave.

    Trouble in River City is what it says to me... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:33:40 AM EST
    on several levels.

    One, I think it confirms for a lot of people that the Dems do not have the wind at their backs, what with a rash of retirement announcements, party switches, Dems declining to run or backing out of running - not just at the Congressional level, but at the local level.

    Two, with so much emphasis now on bipartisanship, strong signals from the WH that the new place to be is right of center, I think the chances are good that replacement candidates, even if they win, will be in that mold, and I think we lose the more reliably left of center voices.  

    So, there's the perception, which can take on a life of its own, and become self-fulfilling, there's the mindset that may have brought us to this point in the first place - that all that matters is having those (D)'s behind the names, regardless of whether they stand for traditional Democratic positions, and then there's the "New" Democratic party, which fully intends to move to the right and will be pleased to replace someone like Dodd with someone more compliant with the new order of things.

    All the way around, to me, it's lose-lose-lose.

    Spelling alert, Jeralyn (none / 0) (#31)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:45:44 AM EST
    Please correct your post title: it's BYRON Dorgan, not Bryan.

    And, in the first paragraph, it should also be BYRON, not Byron.

    Thanks Anne (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:24:43 AM EST
    I fixed it for her.

    Numerous candidates that can beat Scott McInnis? (none / 0) (#32)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 08:54:58 AM EST
    Heck, I could beat Scooter "Lawyer-Lobbiest" McGinnis!

    To complete Jeralyn's analogy, (none / 0) (#33)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:02:50 AM EST
    the retirements may constitute a deckchair rearrangement, but real story would then be that the the S.S. Obama/Reid/Pelosi/Nelson/Stupak has already hit the iceberg.

    The early pundits (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:21:16 AM EST
    Are saying that while it isn't a deathblow to Dems and that they probably won't lose their majorities, these big retirements now are very bad news for Dems.

    Well, the pundits are idiots, (none / 0) (#36)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:25:58 AM EST
    imo.  They are just reporting on the horserace.

    The "iceberg", in my view, is the highjacking of the Democratic party by Obama et al. and their efforts to move the party toward the right.  


    Who was it hijacked from (none / 0) (#45)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:19:14 AM EST
    Last time I checked the Presidency (for Dems) has been Center-Right at best since Carter, and the Senate much the same, the House has been more progressive but it never mattered.

    Strawman. (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by dk on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 11:30:27 AM EST
    Look, if you don't think that TARP, erosion of civil liberties, lining the pockets of health inurance executives at the expense of middle class americans, additional restrictions to womens' bodily autonomy, and the rest doesn't reflect a movement to the right, that't fine.  I just don't agree with you.

    Depends on how much you think narrative matters (none / 0) (#37)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:26:12 AM EST
    It's a long way to November.

    Yes it is (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:37:17 AM EST
    And right now, the Dems are still held in favor -I don't expect that support to go up by November.  They can really only go down, barring any catastrophe.  

    And frankly, it does look a little weird for Senators to be retiring when they have a 60 seat majority.  Dodd is undesratsnadable because he doesn't want to end his career being embarassed, but Dorgan?

    Something else is up....


    What's so difficult to understand? (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:44:48 AM EST
    If Dorgan ran for reelection, he would be walking into a buzz saw in the form of a popular Republican governor.

    Maybe , maybe not (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:01:52 AM EST
    Most reports say the governor was not sure about running if Dorgan was still running.

    Not as simple as you make it.


    It is a long way to November (none / 0) (#52)
    by christinep on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 03:18:31 PM EST
    And, it appears that there are more announced Republican retirements than Democrats who plan retirement (as of today.) Hmmm. The news I've been reading makes it sound the other way. Well, I guess the news media prefer their version to sell papers...and, maybe we have our own agenda in raising alerts as well.

    Well (none / 0) (#55)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 10:43:13 AM EST
    It is worse to see Dems retiring right now because many of the Republicans who are retiring are seeking higher office, while the Dems who are retiring are doing so for other reasons - mainly because they know they can't win in November. You don't usually see retirements from members who you in power and have a super majority unless there's something else afoot.  

    Numbers (none / 0) (#56)
    by christinep on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 12:15:10 PM EST
    Yes, at first my reaction is "what is the reason?" Then, I started to look at numbers of both parties. Now, I wonder what off-year leave-taking averages for the majority party look like? Apart from that, my thought is that--after the round of leave-takings on both sides--the situation will be less murky come later spring. All other things being equal (which, of course, is the qualifier in this sentence), the economy/jobs situation in April-May-June will give us all a big clue about whether anti-incumbency grows beyond winter or whether the atmosphere changes with the spring. Cycles?

    Excepting Dorgan (none / 0) (#42)
    by magster on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:13:23 AM EST
    I wonder if these retirements might be orchestrated by Dems in Washington or the DNC based on Dodd, Cherry and Ritter being Corzinish.

    News accounts (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 10:16:17 AM EST
    Say the WH pressured Cherry to pull out, even though he was the shoo-in nominee (but a Dem is going to lose that seat no matter what).