Friday, December 11, 2009

Dodd's Impending Retirement

U.S. Sen. Dodd is being urged, here in Connecticut and elsewhere, to surrender his seat to someone whose poll numbers are more favorable. Far left progressives in the state have made it no secret that they think Dodd has been so damaged by a persistent negative political narrative that he has become a place holder for other promising candidates. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Hamlet of Greenwich, and Rep. Chris Murphy both have been mentioned as possible replacements.

Dodd, all along, has been stoutly defended by Colleen Flanagan, a state Democratic Party spokeswoman.

Replying to a beltway Cook Report that Dodd is “just too badly damaged to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, almost regardless of who wins the Republican nomination,” Flanagan sent out a press release:

"It's no secret what the Washington smart guys think about this race,'' she said in an email after the Courant asked for a comment.”But it just doesn't matter what they think. They don't vote in Connecticut and they don't really understand Chris Dodd's decades of service and the relationship he's built with folks here by delivering for them time and again."

Hartford Courant political reporter Daniela Altimari responded on Capitol Watch, Courant reporter Chris Keating’s blog:

“Yet, the depth of Dodd' troubles are clear to many in Connecticut, where once heretical whispers that the state's senior senator step aside in favor of the immense popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal or perhaps U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, have grown louder.

“Following Dodd's lousy showing in a Quinnipiac University poll last month, the Courant spoke with more than a dozen Democratic party activists and left-leaning bloggers. While few were willing go on the record, they all spoke of their fears that Dodd wouldn't be able turn things around by election day, 2010 and many privately expressed their hopes that he would step aside for the overall benefit of the party.”

A blogger at Connecticut Local Politics put the whole matter in a nutshell when he wrote, exasperatedly:, “The Dems should drop Dodd and run Murphy for his seat.”

Here are the embedded assumptions in this ever hopeful scenario:

1) Dodd can be persuaded – by whom? – to give up his seat to either Blumenthal or Murphy.

2) Blumenthal or Murphy will rise to the challenge and run for the U.S. senate in Dodd’s stead.

It’s misleading to speak of the Democrats as if there were some sort of official delegation that could “drop Dodd.”

John Bailey, who as party boss in Connecticut used to arrange party tickets in smoke filled rooms, has been dead and gone these may years.

In his own day, Connecticut’s best known party boss, might have been able to arrange an effective visitation. But today Bailey has been replaced in Connecticut politics by enraged bloggers and a handful of disparate, increasingly nervous party members and journalistic bean counters – who are far less effective in his kind of thing. We all recall the impressive delegation that demanded President Richard Nixon’s resignation. That group of executioners, Barry Goldwater among them, would not have been effective today, because the parties have lost a good deal of their cache.

Dodd, and many other incumbent politicians, is his own party

Dodd might be “dropped” in a primary. But neither of the two possible replacements mentioned here – Blumenthal and Murphy – have expressed any inclination to primary Dodd.

Dodd might be “dropped” in a nominating convention. But in that case, Murphy or Blumenthal would have had to gather delegate votes, and there is no indication that either is in the process of doing so.

This means that only Dodd can “drop” Dodd.

Perhaps a not so gentle persuasion will do the trick.

There is some movement in this direction. Dodd is being urged by some activist and journalists to surrender his position to some more promising candidate whose poll numbers are higher than his.

Dennis House over at Channel 3 has speculated that someone other than Dodd (SOTD) might be better situated to hold the seat for Democrats. And some bloggers have been more forceful, suggesting Dodd should be made an offer he cannot refuse, perhaps by the Obama administration.

That’s it.

Dodd says, “No, no. Still running.”

Conclusion: Only Dodd can make such a decision. And he has not made such a decision.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Connecticut today to stump for Dodd. Unfortunately, Dodd himself will not be in attendance. The senator explained in a last minute press release: “Unfortunately, because of the possibility of votes on the Senate floor today, Senator Dodd will be unable to join Vice President Biden in Connecticut. The Senator's wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, will fill-in for Senator Dodd'

Clegg-Dodd for senator!

Apologies to Murphy and Blumenthal.

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