For Dodd, Long Incumbency no Longer a Shield

Chris Dodd has been in Washington for a very, very long time. When his current term comes to an end in January of 2011, he’ll have been in office for an even thirty years.

When he began his Senate career in January of 1981, the Soviet Union still had ten years to run, ColecoVision had yet to be released, and I was three years old. My family would move from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, to our new house in Newington later that month. I grew up in Newington, attended high school in Windsor, went to college in New London, and eventually settled in Enfield with my wife. Through all that time, which has covered essentially my entire life, Chris Dodd has been in the Senate.

Dodd won his first term in the U.S. Senate back in 1980 by defeating the older brother of William F. Buckley, former New York Senator James L. Buckley, 56%-43%. That thirteen point win would be the narrowest margin of victory Dodd would be forced to endure in any of his five successful Senate campaigns.

He has, in fact, easily defeated all comers by margins ranging from 20 points in 1992 to 34 points in 2004. A broad statewide coalition of Democrats and independents have willingly returned Dodd to office time and again.

Until recently, he had an air of permanence about him. Dodd is already the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Connecticut history. He’s also the longest-serving member of Congress from Connecticut. He has been a fixture, the immovable object and the irresistible electoral force. He is the great incumbent, a symbol for an era when terms for Connecticut’s representatives in the Senate and Congress have grown longer and longer.

Consider: During the fifty years from 1909 to 1959, there were fourteen different U.S. Senators from Connecticut. However, in the fifty years from 1959 to 2009, there have been only six, a third of whom have been Dodds. In fact, Chris Dodd and his father can account for all but ten of the past fifty years: the decade from 1971-81. If we count Chris Dodd’s three terms in the House, a Dodd has represented Connecticut in Washington in one capacity or another for all but four of the past fifty years.

Connecticut is called the Land of Steady Habits, though this has not always been the case. We do, however, develop certain habits over time. One of these has been electing Chris Dodd every six years. The sad thing is that if Dodd had not caused himself so much trouble with his mortgage, his blunders with the financial sector, his handling of AIG and all of his other problems, then he probably would have been elected again in 2010. If anyone had asked in 2007 or 2006, it would have seemed a sure thing for Dodd to extend his record-breaking term in the Senate to thirty-six years at the very least.

Now, though, people in this state seem like they’re getting ready to break the habit. It seemed impossible two years ago, but in 2011 there’s a strong probability that we’ll have a new senator.

If not Dodd, then who?

Dodd could still turn this thing around, of course, but he’s got a steep uphill climb ahead of him. However, it seems that some Democrats are already convinced that Dodd isn’t up to it. Nationally, a few prominent voices in the Democratic blogosphere are calling for someone else to replace Dodd on the ticket, like perhaps Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy or Rosa DeLauro.

To those people, I’ll tell you right now: Chris Dodd isn’t going to go quietly. Richard Blumenthal would not dare (or presume) to primary him, and neither Chris Murphy nor Rosa DeLauro have an incentive right now to challenge Dodd in a primary, not unless they were certain that they could actually beat him. A high percentage of Democrats still approve of Dodd, so it’s not a foregone conclusion that Dodd would be beaten in a primary. The progressive coalition that successfully backed Lamont and Obama in statewide primaries is still (mostly) behind Dodd, after all. Therefore, a primary would be a big risk for high-profile Democrats, who could wake up one August morning in 2010 and find it was all for nothing.

What this leaves is the possibility that someone less well-known would take Dodd on. Maybe someone in the legislature, or one of the other constitutional officers. Maybe someone unknown from outside, like this guy, former Greenwich First Selectman Roger Pearson.

Maybe, and this is the frightening part for Democrats watching from Washington, it’ll be no one at all.

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28 responses to “For Dodd, Long Incumbency no Longer a Shield

  1. Alternate title for this post: “Dödderdämmerung”

  2. Alternate title for this post: “Dödderdämmerung”

    How could you not use that?

  3. scanman1722

    I’ve written this on here before but there is no way Dodd is stepping down. There is also no way any mainstream Dem is going to challenge him in a primary. A no-name self financer wouldn’t get the same surge of support Lamont got in ’06 because the only reason most Dems would want him replaced is because they fear he might lose, not because they have a problem with a stance he has taken (i.e. Iraq).

    Call me naive, but I’m not worried about Dodd at-all. Not yet, anyway. The election is so far away, the Republicans will have to go after one another eventually, and Chris Dodd has not held a single campaign event. These Q polls are going to look a lot different in a few weeks/months. If not, then Dodd’s got a problem. But until then, the constant Doddapalooza on here seems a bit silly.

  4. AndersonScooper

    Genghis, I’d like to hear an examination of how Dodd might be able to rebound. What could he do in the next six months to bring his numbers back up towards 50%?

  5. “Genghis, I’d like to hear an examination of how Dodd might be able to rebound. What could he do in the next six months to bring his numbers back up towards 50%? ”

    *guffaw*

    Poopy, stop. You’re killin me.

    Seriously though. Lemme think … Sackcloth and ashes? Self-flagellation? Spend the rest of is days minstering to lepers?

    That MIGHT get him back over the 50.01 percent mark …

  6. scanman1722

    Genghis, I’d like to hear an examination of how Dodd might be able to rebound. What could he do in the next six months to bring his numbers back up towards 50%?

    In no particular order (though all will happen):

    a. Appear in CT with Obama
    b. Embrace populism
    c. Have town hall meetings
    d. Shake alot of hands
    e. Watch Simmons and Caliguiri try to out-conservative one another in a blue state

  7. a. Appear in CT with Obama
    b. Embrace populism
    c. Have town hall meetings
    d. Shake alot of hands
    e. Watch Simmons and Caliguiri try to out-conservative one another in a blue state

    f. Hope that the economy turns around, and that voters next November will forget all about why they’re mad at him now.

  8. scanman1722

    f. Hope that the economy turns around, and that voters next November will forget all about why they’re mad at him now.

    amendment accepted ha

  9. AndersonScooper

    B). Embrace populism.

    What does that mean? Could you be more specific?

  10. Mr. Reality

    You are dismissing ethics? So all this BS from state taxpayer campaigns and Connecticut being Corrupticut means abslotley nothing now? I thought Democrats were for ethics. By saying Dodd will be okay because Obama will campaign with him is silly talk. He did things that people are fed up with..using his position and power for personal gain and campaign contributions. That kind of garbage in CT isn’t supposed to be tolerated anymore. Now we are going to dismiss this?

    Amazing!!! Please explain to me (which you can’t and won’t) why this scenario is any different than Rowland or any other crook?

  11. scanman1722

    What does that mean? Could you be more specific?

    It means he needs to channel his inner Huey Long and act like he is as angry at Wall St. as the rest of America is. A lot of the negativity attached to him right now is that people percieve him to be close to the same people who fouled up the economy. If he starts trash talking those people, people will think he is fighting for them and not for those that work at AIG.

  12. scanman1722

    Amazing!!! Please explain to me (which you can’t and won’t) why this scenario is any different than Rowland or any other crook?

    John Rowland exchanged state contracts for private construction work done on his house. That is illegal. What did Chris Dodd do that was illegal?

    -Countrywide – he was given a lower interest rate than other people. He claims he didn’t know. As of right now, there is no proof that he DID know and even if there was, that would not have been illegal.

    -AIG – he was asked by the Treasury secretary to take out a provision of the bill that would have restricted AIG’s bonuses. Sure, it was sketchy when he first said he didn’t know about it but he ultimately cleared that up and, even if he was behind that, it still would not have been illegal.

    The difference between Rowland and Dodd, my friend, is that John Rowland commited crimes.

  13. Joe Sixpack

    How about he got as presidential pardon for a crook who just happened to be the silent investor in his real estate deals – then he wildly profitted from the deals –

  14. Bruce Rubenstein

    i agree with Scanman…..

  15. AndersonScooper

    What was Rowland convicted of? Theft of public service?

  16. First of all there is something decidedly wrong with the term “senate career”. As Rob Simmons says, a seat is congress belongs to the people.

    –Not the people elected to fill them. They are no one’s personal property. The Dodd Dynasty included.

    Second, in all your phrase of Mr. Dodd you failed to mention anything meaningful he passed into law. You know what? I can’t think of anything either.

    I can tell you one thing. Your man didn’t pass was any kind of reform of the financial market that would have avoided the credit crisis. Your man was – and still is — Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and your man did nothing when the alarm was being raised. You would think that a man with Dodd’s knowledge would know there would be a consequence to forcing banks to lend to people who could not afford the payments. Wouldn’t you?

    It’s not “sad” that his “senate career” is over. What is sad is that millions of people in this nation and state that are losing their jobs and/or life savings. My company (Rite Aid) is closing one of our Distribution Centers. That’s a lot of people out of work buddy. If you want to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for them.

    If not Dodd, than who?

    Rob Simmons. That’s who. He sure has my vote.

  17. It means he needs to channel his inner Huey Long and act like he is as angry at Wall St. as the rest of America is. A lot of the negativity attached to him right now is that people percieve him to be close to the same people who fouled up the economy. If he starts trash talking those people, people will think he is fighting for them and not for those that work at AIG.

    I suspect that could only work if he first apologizes (Iowa, failure to disclose mortgage docs, etc.), then gets angry. But he won’t.

    He won’t apologize for anything… typical pol. He probably thinks it’d be seen as weakness. Personally, I respected Obama when he said “I screwed up.” (I think that was in relation to Daschle.)

    Also, Dodd could start fighting for transparency by acting like a Banking Chairman and using his power of subpoena on the Treasury and Federal Reserve. But again, he won’t. Because then we’d learn even more about the true beneficiaries (Goldman, etc.) of the bailouts.

    http://timwhitelistens.blogspot.com/2009/03/will-dodd-fight-for-transparency-or-is.html

    Will Dodd do anything about today’s typical Washington-style Friday afternoon news dump:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090403/ap_on_bi_ge/mortgage_giants_bonuses

  18. Last August I spoke with a member of Dodd’s staff. The staff member knew I was an R, but I made very clear that my goal was good government… and Dodd could begin working on that by advocating transparency issues, particularly related to the Fannie / Freddie bailout. I pointed out that transparency is a non-ideological, nonpartisan issue.

    In an apparent moment of candor, the staff member said I wasn’t the only one making the suggestion.

    It’s not seven months later and (as far as I know) Dodd has done squat with regard to increasing bailout transparency.

    I conclude that he’s intentionally avoiding the use of subpoena… though I don’t know why.

    Dodd is not a populist. He’s a member of The Political Class… a Luxury Class Incumbent.

  19. A few days ago I again asked Dodd about transparency issues at the Fed… over at the MLN live blog. Although the video seemed to miss a beat at the beginning, I’m pretty sure he:

    1) didn’t address my question – which is nbd considering time constraints

    2) hasn’t yet fulfilled his end-of-video promise to answer all outstanding questions.

    Perhaps Senator Dodd will answer my question about using subpoena power on the Fed (and treasury). But after all these months of doing nothing… I’m confident that’s an issue that the Senator wants to avoid.

  20. Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and your man did nothing when ….

    Nor did he or anyone in his office when contacted by a 14 year minority member state employee union member who’s home was wrongly and illegally foreclosed.
    (Having saved every note, every document and noted every phone conversation, she could prove it too – but no one would listen.)

    Dodd could have solved this constituent’s problem in one phone call flat and it should have been taken care of in 2007.

    Did Dodd respond at all?
    No.

    Odd isn’t it, that when she 1st contacted this Republican the entire situation (including the foreclosure which had already occurred) was reversed in 10 days flat.

    Virtually no Democrats would lift a finger (well maybe one) to help the woman including well heeled, well known and well connected liberal Democratic attorney’s; many of whom were approached and asked.
    (Yes of course, we must help others, but only if they’ll pay us first!)

    Virtually the entire staff of CTGOP, several other well known Republicans and a staffer from one Democratic office holders office mobilized.

    Got it?
    That’s one.

    This story will be made more clear upon the youtube intro; Fox has already shown an interest as you can imagine as they love skewering Dodd and this is a textbook case of his total dereliction of duty.

    I’ll bet there’s thousands of such cases where Dodd simply failed to do his job and his CT office (legendarily lazy political hacks who won’t even help their own party members) is dysfunctional; and so far as I can tell, loaded with racists too.
    Figures.

  21. “I’ll bet there’s thousands of such cases where Dodd simply failed to do his job and his CT office (legendarily lazy political hacks who won’t even help their own party members) is dysfunctional; and so far as I can tell, loaded with racists too.”

    Outrageous, offensive, and wrong! I know many of them – they’re good people. Your one rambling anecdote doesn’t mean they’re racists. Sweet jesus, calm down.

  22. I would like to visit the house constructed entirely of tin foil.

  23. Outrageous, offensive, and wrong! I know many of them – they’re good people. Your one rambling anecdote doesn’t mean they’re racists. Sweet jesus, calm down.

    I guarantee you that had I sent my blue-eyed blond wife in; they would have helped her.

    They’re clearly not good people … period; and we’re going to expose both Dodd and his hacks as who and what they really are.

    There is however a very nice lady over at Connecticut’s one legitimate US Senate office in Hartford.

  24. I would like to visit the house constructed entirely of tin foil.

    Actually a nice Cape on a street that looks as if Wally and Beaver might walk by any minute.

    You and your minions however might find this tin foil product helpful.

  25. You and your minions however might find this tin foil product helpful.

    I’m so pumped that someone thinks I have minions that I didn’t click on the link!

  26. You and your minions however might find this tin foil product helpful.

    You can get them from Lee Whitnum. She has a closet full… some casual, some for formal occasions.

  27. What are the performance standards we expect from a Senator ? From a Congressman? ; Social worker? Leader? Servant? Public Realations mouthpiece? Salesman? Investigator? Santa Claus? How about a discussion on a job description for these jobs you all endlessly discuss. A simle bottom line job description we are all comfortable with and then an annual job performance review by vote.

  28. If newspapers were musical compositions, Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer, a publication that for years has been following U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s entangling alliances with Big Business, might very well be Bach.

    Consider the lede line on Powell’s most recent column, “Anyone can beat Dodd – why not Blumenthal”:

    “Now that the latest Quinnipiac Universality poll has found that any Republican who has not worked for AIG could defeat U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd by a mile…”

    Powell points to a story in The Washington Times in which a top executive from AIG “whose derivative instruments ruined the company and the world financial system, Joseph Cassano, conducted a political fund raising operation at the company for Dodd just after the 2006 election, as Dodd ascended to the chairman of the senate Banking Committee, whereupon Dodd continued to help insure that Cassano’s deadly inventions escaped government regulation.”

    Some Democrats, frightened that Dodd might lose his seat to Republicans when the senator will be up for re-election in 2010, are casting about wildly for a suitable replacement, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose popularity ratings rival those of popular Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, has been mentioned in this connection.

    “Even if the party lacks the leadership and principle ton solve the Dodd problem,” Powell writes, it might still have the ambition – that is, the longsuffering ambition of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. 63, who for 15 of his nearly 20 years as attorney general has been waiting patiently for a Democratic Senate nomination to open up. While such a nomination may open up in 2012, upon the expiration of the term of rogue Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who seems to have alienated most Democrats, that is 3 ½ years away, when Blumenthal will be 66 and looking even less like the representative of the next generation.”

    Powell acknowledges that Blumenthal’s “insufferable” yearning for “contrived pretexts for publicity” may present a problem. But then white horses are very visible, and the Democrat Party may just need a rider on a white horse to save Dodd’s seat for Democrats, a posture that for Blumenthal appears to be effortless.

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