BREAKING: Chris Dodd Retiring (UPDATED X2)

The past 24 hours have brought a flood of high-profile Democratic retirements–Sen. Byron Dorgan (ND), Gov. Bill Ritter (CO), and now Sen. Chris Dodd (CT):

Dodd, the powerful and embattled chairman of the US Senate Banking Committee, will announce he will not run for re-election at a press conference in his home state of Connecticut, according to The Washington Post which reported the story late Tuesday on its political blog.

[…]

The retirement of Dodd, 65, pre-empts what Republican foes had seen as a winnable battle for his Senate seat in November, when the opposition party aims to reduce the crucial 60-vote majority.

Democratic sources told political news outlet Politico that Dodd’s announcement would allow Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run in his place, giving the Democratic Party what they described as a stronger nominee in a race regarded by many as a toss-up.

“He’s totally in,” a top national Democrat said about Blumenthal’s candidacy, according to Politico.

[Emphasis mine]

I actually think Dodd’s retirement is a good thing for Democrats–his approval ratings have tanked in recent months, making his re-election prospects slim.

One reason for that is the perception that Dodd received special treatment from banking interests, thus posing a conflict of interest with his role as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Another reason is the perception that Dodd, as Chairman, didn’t do enough to avert the 2008 economic collapse and prevent future collapses.

Chris Dodd had a big weight around his neck–one that gave Republicans the chance to win that seat. Without him I think Democrats are likely to keep that seat, particularly if the highly-popular Blumenthal is their candidate.

UPDATE: Further evidence that Dodd’s retirement is good news for Democrats– election prognosticator Charlie Cook just changed his rating of Connecticut’s Senate race from “lean Republican” to “toss up.”

UPDATE II: Greg Sargent reports that polls show AG Blumenthal leading all GOP candidates by 30 points.

Republicans will spin, but Dodd’s exit is good news for Democrats.

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