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Sen. Chris Dodd to retire, sources tell CNN

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Sen. Chris Dodd to retire, sources tell CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Source: News conference planned for Wednesday to formally announce decision
  • Sen. Chris Dodd was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in 2010
  • He has been criticized for ties to the financial industry, especially AIG
RELATED TOPICS
  • Christopher Dodd
  • American International Group Inc.
  • Connecticut
  • U.S. Senate

(CNN) -- Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, plans to announce his retirement Wednesday, two sources close to the lawmaker told CNN.

 

Dodd, 65, had been winning congressional elections in his state since 1974, but he's recently been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in 2010. He has been trailing likely Republican challengers in recent polls, even though Connecticut typically leans Democratic.

 

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, one of the state's most popular Democrats, plans to announce his candidacy for Dodd's seat Wednesday, a highly placed Connecticut Democrat told CNN.

 

Blumenthal's candidacy could increase the likelihood that Democrats will retain the Senate seat in November's midterm election.

 

Dodd's news conference comes a day after another Democratic senator, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, announced that he will not seek re-election in November.

 

Dorgan's seat, unlike Dodd's, was considered safe for Democrats, who are trying to hold on to their 60-seat filibuster-proof Senate majority. Most observers believe North Dakota will now become a top GOP target. Some top Republicans are urging that state's popular GOP governor, John Hoeven, to run for the seat.

 

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday that Dorgan's decision "highlights just how vulnerable both Senate and House Democrats have become since deciding to walk in lockstep with President Obama's government-run policies."

 

Rob Simmons, a Republican who had been leading Dodd in recent polls, said Thursday that he is still in the race.

 

Simmons said Wednesday that any Democratic nominee will have to defend "failed Democratic policies."

 

Dodd has been criticized for ties to the financial industry, which is particularly influential in Connecticut. The senator was criticized last year for his role in handing out big bonuses at AIG, after the insurance giant received taxpayer bailout money. AIG's Financial Products unit is based in Connecticut.

 

Dodd initially denied having anything to do with American International Grouppaying out millions in bonuses, then later acknowledged his role.

 

Dodd, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, acknowledged to CNN that he was responsible for language added to the stimulus bill to ensure that existing contracts for bonuses at bailout recipients, such as AIG, were honored.

 

Soon after that, Dodd acknowledged that his poll numbers had slipped. Rumors about Dodd's retirement have swirled around Washington for months.

 

Dodd's retirement will, at least for the moment, silence his family's long-powerful voice in Connecticut politics. His father, Thomas Dodd, represented the state in the U.S. House from 1953 to 1957, and in the U.S. Senate between 1959 and 1971.

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