If Chris Dodd retires, it takes another big chunk out of the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party, which is a big loss for progressives in the Senate. With Byron Dorgan (D-ND) also retiring, the Dems are not in jeopardy of losing control in the Senate (Dems haven’t made much of their filibuster proof super majority), the loss of Dodd is important because he had become one of the Chamber’s inside and high ranking progressive go-to guys for years.
Dodd is a member of the class of ’74, which ushered in a large anti-Nixon, pro reform Dem. majority that remained til 1995. Dodd also is one of the class of 1974 that is part of the cadre putting together the final compromise on Health Reform. In that group, Dodd most clearly inherited the Kennedy mantle and his voice and clout represents perhaps the best chance for progressive tweaks before the final bill becomes law. It is my hope that the timing of his pending announcement does not jeopardize his influence here, and, in the alternative, does not signify his frustration for the final outcome for HCR. We shall soon see.
Finally, I am of the school that believes his decision to leave helps deflate the inflated importance of his Connecticut colleague Joe Lieberman. Once the Dems concede they have lost their lock on 60, Lieberman has a tougher time holding the party hostage to his demands in return for the ‘magical’ 60th vote. On the other hand, Dodd was facing a very difficult reelection challenge this year. Perhaps his decision to leave helps clear the way for the Dems. to retain his seat.
Regardless, good luck Sen Dodd. I guess with Teddy gone, legislating aint as fun as it used to be.