(CNN) - Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee whose approval ratings have sharply fallen as the nation's economy sputters, will have to defend his seat against at least one high-profile Connecticut Republican.
Former Rep. Rob Simmons, a three-term congressman who represented the eastern half of the state, said Sunday he has decided to mount a challenge against Dodd in 2010.
Speaking to CNN, Simmons said the decision came after a long discussion with his family.
"I met with the family Sunday and over the weekend I had long talks and we decided to go forward," he said. "We will be filing papers and doing all the administrative stuff in the next couple of weeks and then we will have a rollout in early April."
Simmons, once among the few remaining Republicans in the Northeast, lost his seat in 2006 by a razor-thin margin to Democrat Joe Courtney after a race that largely turned on Simmons' support of the war in Iraq.
But the Vietnam veteran and former CIA agent - is largely considered a moderate Republican of the traditional New England mold, supporting abortion rights and overall fiscal conservativism. He's also said same-sex marriage should be a state issue.
In a recent survey from Quinnipiac University, Simmons holds a statistically insignificant 1 percentage point lead over Dodd, 43 percent to 42 percent.
National Democrats were quick to take aim at Simmons Monday, painting him as a one-time Bush ally with ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
“Rob Simmons is no moderate – he was a staunch supporter of George Bush’s failed economic policies and this race will be an opportunity to hold him accountable for that record,” said Eric Schultz, the communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Specifically, the DSCC notes Simmons held a fundraiser at Abramoff's Washington, DC restaurant in 2004 and received campaign donations from his wife, Pamela. He also received nearly $40,000 from a political action committee run by Delay, who resigned his seat amid legal problems in 2006.
Dodd, a five term Senator who ran for president in 2008, has come under sharp criticism for failing to reign in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae during his tenure as head of the Senate banking committee. Dodd also faces a Senate ethics committee investigation over favorable mortgage rates he received under the Countrywide VIP program.
CNBC host Larry Kudlow has also indicated he is considering running against Dodd in 2010.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m. ET: Simmons confirms to CNN he is running
Great another Liberal Republican!!!
Dodd should be in jail just like all the other Democrat criminals.
Mr. Dodd, you can fool some people some time, most of the people most of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
For what we hear in the media regarding your dealings with Country Wide you seem to have enter the long list of corrupted poilitcian.
Is time for you to go...!!!!!
Hey Jim, so if Adolph Hitler were running and had a "D" next to his name you would vote for him? You're what is wrong with the American electorate.
Simmons licked Bushes butt for years.....just another ditto Republican.
Rob Simmons isn't in it for the people, he's in it for the Party. He'll rubber-stamp anything a Republican puts in front of him.
Simmons worships the ground Rush Limbaugh walks on. Enough said.
Dodd needs to go......he is one of the people who are responsible for this financial mess.
Let's hope the Democrats have someone ready to run in his place.
Dodd should be in prison not running the country in the ground. He is best buds with the head of country wide, the guy who has ruined millions of americans. Not Dodd he got a great deal!!!
the repub guy's can campaign on the following.
in these hard economic times you and me, we did not get and cannot get, that very special person mortgage deal from a now bankrupted mortgage company because neither of us was in charge of the banking sub committee of the us of a.
and in these hard economic times when millions of us are losing or have lost our jobs, there is one guy, dodd, who has a job for life. let him feel our daily pain. fire him, let him struggle with his mortgage. let him experience what "real" (the unconnected not ever privileged) american's feel every day.
Landon – he then, sir, is a smart man. Better vote for him! ANYTHING has to be better than the crook – DODD!
Lane, Ellie, and Langdon are the same person. Your one line propaganda WITHOUT PROOF is shameless.
Please expose DODD's in th ehomr mortage mess he a Barney caused.
Dodd has voiced many thoughtful opinions over the years. I think he takes objective looks at highly complex issues. We KNOW how the republicans will act if they get the seat–they'll be a solid voting block that tries to hold up ALL legislation so the Democrats look bad.
Dodd has a ton of experience and knows how the big picture functions. Give the Dems a shot.
And to the repubs on here whining about fiscal responsibility, where has your righteous outrage been for the last eight years when we tripled the national debt and had two wars that accomplished nothing?
Who spent all that money? Oh yeah, the Repub congress and the repub white house.