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Dodd, Dorgan decision reshape Senate landscape

The twin retirements by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Tuesday have drastically reshaped the Senate landscape and delivered a major blow to Democrats hopes' of holding on to their current filibuster-proof majority.

Dodd's retirement is not entirely unexpected as polling had shown for months that he had almost no path to victory. And, Dodd's decision to step aside actually bolsters his party's chances of holding the seat in November. Dorgan's decision, on the other hand, stunned official Washington and gave Republicans an unexpected jolt of momentum -- particularly with Rep. Earl Pomeroy deciding against a Senate bid, according to a source briefed on his decision.

Given the likelihood of a Republican pickup in North Dakota, the current 60 seat, filibuster-proof majority held by Democrats is now decidedly tenuous. Republicans have legitimate opportunities to take over Senate seats in Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and North Dakota while Democrats are on offense in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Louisiana and North Carolina.
Let's unpack each of the races.

In Connecticut, the expected announcement by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, which is expected either today or tomorrow, should clear the Democratic field as Rep. Chris Murphy is likely to pass on the prospect of challenging the popular top cop. Murphy is likely to instead point toward the 2012 Senate race when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) is up for re-election.

While the Dodd-for-Blumenthal switch clearly improves Democrats' chances in Connecticut, both former Rep. Rob Simmons and businesswoman Linda McMahon -- the two leading Republicans -- are expected to continue running Republicans also rightly note that Blumenthal has never run in a seriously contested race and it remains to be seen how he will stand up under the scrutiny headed his way.

And, while national Republicans are officially neutral in the GOP primary, McMahon's massive personal wealth -- she is rumored to be willing to spend upwards of $50 million of her own money on the race -- could serve as a sort of x-factor even in a race against the popular Blumenthal.

Dorgan's retirement in North Dakota immediately catapults the state to the top of Senate Republicans' target list given the strong GOP lean of the state -- Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) won it by eight points in 2008 -- and the now far-more-likely candidacy of Gov. John Hoeven.

Hoeven, first elected to governor in 2000 and re-elected overwhelmingly in 2004 and 2008, is the state's most popular pol and, as such, has been repeatedly courted by Senate Republicans to run. In 2006, Hoeven considered a challenge to Sen. Kent Conrad (D) before ultimately deciding against it -- a decision due, at least in part, to Conrad's aggressive efforts to hold the governor to his pledge to serve out a full second term.

Republican strategists said today that they now expected Hoeven to run but acknowledged that the governor largely keeps his own counsel, making it difficult to predict what he might do.

It's likely the race will be frozen until Hoeven makes his intentions known but with Pomeroy, who has held the state's at-large seat since 1992, now on the sidelines, expect Democrats to turn to former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp as a potential candidate. Heitkamp ran against Hoeven in 2000, losing 55 percent to 45 percent. MSNBC host Ed Schultz, a North Dakota native, said this morning that he had been approached by a Democratic state legislator in North Dakota to consider running for the seat but there is little excitement for his candidacy among establishment party officials.

Both races remain fluid, which is to be expected so soon after such major announcements by Dodd and Dorgan. But, at first blush, Dodd's retirement helps Democrats while Dorgan's is a major plus for Republicans.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 6, 2010; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

By the way, IF there are 100 Senators, and IF thirty years is a long time to be in the senate, then you get an average of 3+ Senators turnover a year, or 6 per election. Those who can steadily get reelected have to retire sometime. (And thirty years is in fact a very long time in the Senate, since it means by the time you have thirty you are almost certainly pushing normal retirement.)

Normal turnover should probably average closer to 10 Senators an election.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 7, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"Dorgan's a major blow, though Dodd's retirement brings it back a bit."

Only a qualified Mebbe.

The Republicans now have to research the remaining two hundred or so Democrats in the state so they have the dirt to throw at whomever gets nominated.

But since there will be that wonderful sense of entitlement driving the Republicans, and since there is a moderate chance that the republicans will nominate a moderate, there is the very good chance that the Really and Truly American Party (RATAP?)can repeat its successful tactics developed in NY23.

While normal midterm rules ought to be in play, there is a suicidal wing of the republican party that conflates moves from the left toward the center as (only technically correct) moves to the right, and therefore any democratic move to the center is a wave of Conservative groundswell. Having built a cob web of undistributed middle terms, they build a gossamer palace wherein THEY have the mandate of heaven to fill Congress every Rasputin, Pugachev, Machiavelli, and Attila they can find. (I'm disappointed. Used to be all four names would choke the spell checker. Now only the middle Russian got questioned).

When the Center tries to run one of theirs, that RATAP stands ready to B & M and nominate some less than photogenic (that being his admirable quality) WASP in the name of what Real Americans really want. It does give the democrats two bites at the apple.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 7, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

MORE APPARENT MISADVENTURES IN LAME GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP...

...OF CHRIS CILLIZZA'S "THE FIX," "44" AND OTHER POLITICAL INTERNET BLOGS.

(Good people on the inside: PLEASE FORWARD TO JOHN BRENNAN / DENNIS BLAIR, c/o White House. They need to see this one...)

See "Reporting" section, http://Poynter.org OR http://NowPublic.com/scrivener, comments section, "U.S. Silently," "Witness Says..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 6, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

fivethirtyeight has an excellent column by Tom Schaller on the destructive in-fighting going on in the Republican Party in Florida. On the same site, Nate Silver has two great posts: one on Dodd/Dorgan and another on the 2010 Senate races at this time. The Fix and 538 have had a very busy 36 hours.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 6, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

blarg said it best:

CC, you admit that Dodd's retirement is good for the Democrats. That directly contradicts your first paragraph. Dorgan's retirement is a blow to Democrats; Dodd's is actually helpful.

Posted by: Blarg | January 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: drindl | January 6, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess it wasn't a "feint."

Still think he could have won. Maybe it's his health after all...

Senator Dodd, we need your immediate help to stop DOMESTIC terrorism. Do it in your father's memory. We need some American Nuremberg Trials. Read this and see if you agree:

TEAM OBAMA: When Will You Stop DOMESTIC TERRORISM -- like this:

U.S. SILENTLY TORTURES, IMPAIRS AMERICANS WITH CELL TOWER MICROWAVES, SATELLITES, SAYS VETERAN MAINSTREAM MEDIA JOURNALIST

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan: What Do You Know About THIS?

• Secret Bush legacy multi-agency federal program uses cell tower/GPS satellite microwave/laser electromagnetic radiation attack system to torture, impair, subjugate "targeted" citizens -- and oversees local "community watch" vigilante terrorism and financial sabotage campaigns.

See story at: Poynter.org ("Reporting" section)
OR http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "U.S. SILENTLY..." / "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 6, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Who was the guy who beat Lieberman in the democratic primary in 2008 ? Why isn't he running ??


IS that why Blumenthal is practically running Dodd over with a truck to make his announcement ???

It doesn't look good.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | January 6, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

ouch,
and besides,
such a mean thing for Dodd to say

Posted by: shrink2 | January 6, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The most delicious irony of the day just came on C-SPAN. Sen. Dodd's said that he has little respect for politicians who resign in order to spend more time with their family. Then Gov. Ritter was on next. You guessed it. He's decided to not run in order to spend more time with his family.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I already heard Blumenthal's unofficial official announcement this morning live on Squawkbox just before the opening bell.

He talked all about how gracious and wonderful Dodd was for bowing out. He then made an orthodox Blue Dog mini-stump speech.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 6, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Good points, but Gallenod's point is still valid: there are some old dudes (& dudettes) in the senate. The ones that come to mind for me are all Ds. Byrd & the gentlemen from Hawaii are ancient. Feinstein & Kerry are legitimate elder statespeople. Gallenod is correct to point out there is more turnover pending in the Senate.

Posted by: bsimon1"

I'm not so sure if he's right, though. Sure, you've got some greybeards, but there seems to be a decent amount of turnover. I don't have data or anything, but I think the Senate has been becoming MORE fluid as we progress through history, not less so.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 6, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

As CC noted earlier this week, there are more Republicans retiring in the House than Democrats. This story is not yet complete. Still, it does get CC's new year off to a bang!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

People like "armpeg" in the GOP almost single-handedly guarantee that if people vote in 2010, Democrats will be doing just fine. The key is, as Bob Herbert in the NY Times warned yesterday, the Democrats need to do something to convince voters that they are NOT going to let the momentous opportunities to make truly fundamental positive change the better prepares our nation for the future go by without action.

Nothing says "stay home" to Democratic voters like Democratic elected officials acting like they're too scared to govern effectively.

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | January 6, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

People like "armpeg" in the GOP almost single-handedly guarantee that if people vote in 2010, Democrats will be doing just fine. The key is, as Bob Herbert in the NY Times warned yesterday, the Democrats need to do something to convince voters that they are NOT going to let the momentous opportunities to make truly fundamental positive change the better prepares our nation for the future go by without action.

Nothing says "stay home" to Democratic voters like Democratic elected officials acting like they're too scared to govern effectively.

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | January 6, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, things are really breaking down now for the Democrats. House Dems. are retiring, Ritter: Gov. of Colorodo, Dorgan & Dodd. Wow! Republicans will win enough Senate seats in 2010 so that the Dems will not have even close to a filibuster proof majority. At this point, Democrats only have a 50%-50% shot to pick up 1 senate seat, and less than 50% to pick up any 1 more. Republicans have recruited great candidates in Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky & Kansas. Missouri is Democrat's only shot of winning. Blunt is a great candidate and so is Carnahan. With the political winds blowing at the backs of Republicans, I'd say Blunt has the advantage. Republicans, on the other hand, have great shots to win in the following states: Illinois, Arkansas, North Dakota, Conn., California, Nevada, Pennsylvania & Colorodo. Republicans already have great candidates and great organizations in these states to pick up these seats in 2010. Republicans also have a shot to be competitive in Washington, Wisconsin & New York if they recruit the right candidate. North Dakota was an if yesterday, but today with Dorgan's retirement and Hoeven, almost assurdly getting in, Republicans have that one won. In Washington, Republicans need Dave Reichert or Rob McKenna to run. If one of those people get into the race, Republicans have a real shot to win. In New York, Republicans need either former Gov. George Pataki or US Rep. Peter King to run. If King runs, they at least have a B candidate against Gillbrand. They at least have about an even shot to win. If Pataki runs, he's the favorite against Gillbrand. In Wisconsin, Republicans need US Rep. Paul Ryan or Former Gov. Tommy Thompson to run against Sen. Feingold. Republicans have great shots to win lots of house & governor seats. Republicans have great chances here in 2010, with the national environment favoring them you must think they will win quite a few.

Posted by: reason5 | January 6, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

ddawd writes
"Oops, make that 45 Senators who were in 0ffice at the end of 2000 are no longer.

And just based on retirements alone, there will be ten new ones a year from now."

Good points, but Gallenod's point is still valid: there are some old dudes (& dudettes) in the senate. The ones that come to mind for me are all Ds. Byrd & the gentlemen from Hawaii are ancient. Feinstein & Kerry are legitimate elder statespeople. Gallenod is correct to point out there is more turnover pending in the Senate.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 6, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

You know, I am so sick and tired of the inside the Beltway media spin. Although I definitely think a near shoo-in pickup in North Dakota almost gives the GOP an ability to fillibuster again, there is not a huge "wave" building out there that is going to hand the Senate back to Republicans.....sorry. The idea that Republicans are going to win in PA, IL, AR, CO, and NV, in addition to the places where they have a little better chance of pickups now (ND & DE) is just a HUGE stretch....sorry, but the colossla F-up that the GOP made of the country is still accepted and well-known, and although Americans are uneasy and still not happy with the direciton of the country, the voters are NOT ready to return to the failed GOP. It's not going to happen, and I'd even argue that polling is beginning to show that the "surge" of upset (largely based on teabag lies) is not lasting. People are happy that something is being tried on health care, even if they're not sure--either on the left or in the middle--that this bill has what it takes to fix things. The chances that the economy will improve this year are looking better. The Dems have certainly stoked the ire of the right-wing elements of the political classes, but there remains no solid evidence that the currents fueling their showmanship are really taking hold in the electorate---and before you begin pouting about McDonnell and Christie please recall how those candidates won--by courting the center and promising to govern as pragmatic centrists. Do we really expect that kind of campaigning out of the current teabagged GOP nationally? It's going to be a bigger internal GOP fight than the Dem's internal fight on left vs. center are. Not to mention, the Democrats in the Senate actually have decent chances in OH, NH, MO, and possibly even LA of picking up a seat.

So, I am not buying the gloom & doom BS that you Beltway media people are spewing. I'm sure it makes for interesting reading and compelling article-writing, but it just isn't based in reality the way I see it.

And as a former Republican-turned Democrat, I would be willing to give the GOP the credit it would deserve if they were mounting a credible opposition party--but for the most part, sorry charlie, they aren't.

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | January 6, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Oops, make that 45 Senators who were in 0ffice at the end of 2000 are no longer.

And just based on retirements alone, there will be ten new ones a year from now.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 6, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cillizza:

Good thing you took a break over the holidays to recharge the batteries, because 2010 is off and running!!!

Posted by: JakeD | January 6, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If Dodd was as dedd as CC thinks, then Dodd's retirement is good news for the Democrats. The phrase "almost no path to victory" rings a bell. The fact that Dodd decided to retire suggests this was the case rather than a right wing fantasy.

Dodd leaving the Senate one way or another is not good news for the Democrats. Still, he will have his fingerprints on some of the most significant legislation to pass Congress in a generation. Not a bad finale to his career in Congress.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Gallenod...I agree.

Tracy, Status Now

Posted by: Statusnow9 | January 6, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"I think Congress will be a much different, and younger place by 2017. Whether it will be any more functional remains to be seen.

Posted by: Gallenod"

Well, think about how different the Senate is today in comparison to the makeup in 2000. In makeup alone, Dems gained 14 seats. 35 Senators who were serving at the end of the 106th Congress (which ended at the start of 2001) are no longer serving today.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 6, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

ddawd asks
"Would I be alone in thinking that the Dems would have been better off if neither Dorgan nor Dodd retired?"

Depends on what you want. For me, if Dodd chooses to use this opportunity to pass a more strict banking reform than he could if he were seeking reelection, its a win. If he pusses out in hopes of a highly compensated lobbying semi-retirement, its a loss.

For Dorgan's seat, lets assume Hoeven runs & wins. At his age & experience, he might be a good pragmatic Republican with whom Dems can work, which isn't all bad. That might actually be a good scenario for the President's agenda, than if ND elected a TEA-endorsed idealogue.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 6, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

You're dreaming Chris if you think (hope) that the Democrap Socialists will hold a 60 vote veto-proof Senate after the 2010 elections.
With the American voters now wise to the fact that Comrade Obama and the Democrap Socialist's are trying to follow Saul Alinski's script in his book "Rules for Radicals", that envisions a total elimination of our capitalist system and to make our Constitution and Bill of Rights null and void, and to create a Socialist/Communist Workers Paradise a la the former USSR's (only they think that they can do it better), the chances for them to hold 60 votes there is zero.
The way the incompetent and clueless Comrade Obama and the House of Representatives are governing and running things, they'll probably lose the House of Representatives.

Posted by: armpeg | January 6, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse


Is there any way that Blumenthal could avoid "tripping over" Dodd's body as he announced his run for the Senate ???


Maybe there should be a twenty-four hour rule.


Blumenthal waits two and a half hours to make his announcement - even telling papers this morning that he is going to run.


WHY DIDN'T BLUMENTHAL JUST GO TO DODD'S PRESS CONFERENCE, AND THROW DODD TO THE GROUND AS DODD WAS ABOUT TO SPEAK ???


Would have been quicker, right?


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | January 6, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Would I be alone in thinking that the Dems would have been better off if neither Dorgan nor Dodd retired?

Dodd would have had a better chance of holding his seat better than any Democrat has of replacing Dorgan.

Even if Dodd lost, the successor can't be too out of line with the wishes of the state and would have to be somewhat normal. At least a step above Gregg and would be someone who is amenable to compromise. The Republican that wins in SD is a pretty good bet to be batshat crazy.

I don't think it's a wash.

That being said, the Connecticut scenario alone is a dream scenario. Replace Dodd with a very strong candidate. And also have a pretty good bench to take on Lieberman two years from now.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 6, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have six Senators retiring, so the situation is not as bad as it may seem in the media today.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | January 6, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

koolkat_1960


Extremely smart for you to say that - in fact the country is better off as well with negotiations between the parties.


OH, isn't that Obama promised anyway?


Well, Obama has proven himself to be a LIAR time and time again - Obama can not be trusted - Where is C-SPAN on the health care negotiations ???

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | January 6, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I think the Dems are better off with 57 or so seats in the Senate. There would be no talk of a "filibuster-proof" majority -- which has proven to be an albatross -- and more might actually get done because they'd have to get a few Republican votes on important bills.

In the House, as the Republicans proved, a small majority is all you need to do what you want. The Senate will remain the key battleground after the 2010 elections.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 6, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Dorgan's a major blow, though Dodd's retirement brings it back a bit. Looking at the current list of possibles it looks like the Democrats face headwinds. So long filibuster proof majority and good riddance! The net effect was to have individual senators holding legislation hostage.

I'm glad that the glitch in the Matrix is over and the comments section appears to be functioning again. Just watch out for Agents!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Dodd and Dorgan are just the bow wave of a massive change in the makeup of Congress over the next four national elections. Not (as some will hope) because of a voter rebellion, but because the current leadership of both parties has just been around a very long time and they're getting old.

Incumbents have been hanging around longer and longer, and I'd bet the average age of both chambers is at or near a record high. Yes, some of "da bums" will get thrown out by voters, but given protective gerrymandering and absent Federal convictions, most long-serving incumbents just sit in their seat until they decide to leave.

I think Congress will be a much different, and younger place by 2017. Whether it will be any more functional remains to be seen.

Posted by: Gallenod | January 6, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

CC, you admit that Dodd's retirement is good for the Democrats. That directly contradicts your first paragraph. Dorgan's retirement is a blow to Democrats; Dodd's is actually helpful.

Posted by: Blarg | January 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The Fix writes
"The twin retirements by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Tuesday have drastically reshaped the Senate landscape and delivered a major blow to Democrats hopes' of holding on to their current filibuster-proof majority.

Dodd's retirement is not entirely unexpected as polling had shown for months that he had almost no path to victory. And, Dodd's decision to step aside actually bolsters his party's chances of holding the seat in November."


Is it just me, or does paragraph 2 contradict the claim in paragraph 1 that the twin retirements are a blow to Dems? If Dodd's seat is now safer & Dorgan's seat is now less safe, isn't that something of a wash?


Must be the new math.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 6, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

GREAT NEWS for any true American who wants politicians to NOT be corrupt (we are still moving to the Nutmeg State though ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 6, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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