January 6th, 2010
04:55 PM ET
8 years ago

Dem officials convinced Dodd race was 'virtually unwinnable'

A senior Democratic official told CNN Wednesday that party officials felt Sen. Chris Dodd's re-election race was 'virtually unwinnable' for Democrats.

A senior Democratic official told CNN Wednesday that party officials felt Sen. Chris Dodd's re-election race was 'virtually unwinnable' for Democrats.

Washington (CNN) - A senior Democratic source involved in Chris Dodd's campaign tells CNN that Democratic party officials had become convinced that Dodd's Connecticut re-election race was "virtually unwinnable for us."

Still, while this source and others admit there have been quiet conversations among party officials for some time about Dodd stepping aside, they say it does not appear that party leaders specifically asked him to do so.

"People have too much respect for Chris Dodd to try to get him out of this race," said the source involved with his campaign. "He had to come to it on his own."

Another source close to Dodd tells CNN he had been well aware of his uphill battle for months. This source concedes that the political reality was a big part the reason he decided not to seek re-election, but insists "this isn't a decision forced upon him or by anyone. He was looking at his career, looking at his record of accomplishments over the past 35 years, asking what else is there."

An internal Dodd campaign poll taken last month showed him trailing the leading Republican contender for his seat, Rob Simmons, 46-51 percent, in the Democratic-leaning state - where the same poll indicates President Obama holds a high favorability rating.

The source close to Dodd says his recent personal tragedies and challenges also weighed heavily in his decision to retire. He was diagnosed and treated with prostate cancer this summer, and also lost his sister and best friend, Ted Kennedy, to cancer in the span of three weeks.

"At a certain point he asked himself 'Why am I running? Why put myself through this? He looked back and said 'I've already done a hell of a lot," said the source close to Dodd.

Democratic sources say Dodd began making calls to associates about his decision Tuesday. However, a source with knowledge of the conversation tells CNN that he did not call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid until after midnight Eastern time, after the news had already been reported.

Despite what many Democratic sources call widespread respect for Dodd, it was hard for party strategists to hide their happiness with his decision, since it clears the way for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run. He is a popular, long-serving figure who Democrats believe has a good chance of keeping the seat in their column.

Related story: GOP FOIAs Blumenthal

"It's not a cakewalk, but it turns that race from a very uphill - pushing a boulder up a cliff - to a race that is very much winnable," said a senior Democratic strategist.

At his formal announcement Wednesday, Dodd - whose father, former Connecticut Sen. Thomas Dodd, lost his own re-election bid in 1970 - will have his wife Jackie, children and extended family on hand.

Filed under: Chris Dodd • Connecticut • Democrats • Popular Posts • Senate
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Ron in California

    Why was it unwinnable??? Because all of Dodd's unethical maybe even criminal behavior would become public.

    January 6, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. ObamasRecordDefict


    DODD has been a complete joke for decades. He's corrupt, and not in touch with reality. He was one of the ones (along with Barney Frank) asleep that helped to create the mortgage crisis, and his blind support for an awful HC bill illustrate this man's poor record.

    Bye Bye Dodd.

    You were warned, and still voted the wrong way. Good Riddance

    January 6, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Carl Justus

    That is unfortunate, for Chris Dodd has worked hard for the middle class and the poor for many years in the senate.

    I wish him good luck in his new edearvers.

    January 6, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. obama the liar

    one by one, we will defeat these leftist liberal loons and end the oppression of the Democrap party in 2010.

    January 6, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Dodd may become Lou Dobbs running mate in 2012.

    January 6, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Enough

    Who has ANY respect for that corrupt weasel? Democrats are starting to realize the cost of shoving through all these wasteful pork filled spending projects as well as this lousy health care bill that we don't want. Democrats chose to go it alone and destroy this country and now they will pay the price.

    January 6, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. Jane/Seattle

    We NEED Strict TERM LIMITS. Let the good ones SERVE in some other capacity if this truly is their CALLING. Term Limits is the way to remove Corporate Purchasing. Of course, this must be accompanied by total Campaign Finance Reform. This Good Old Boy/Girl crew will NEVER voluntarily take this action. Peace

    January 6, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. mjm

    He was going to be voted out anyway.

    January 6, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I think Dodd realizes that we have to be accountable for the choices, good or bad, that we make. Of course that does not apply to a right wingnut. For them, it is everyone else's fault.

    January 6, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Fitz in Texas

    "Dem officials convinced Dodd race was 'virtually unwinnable".......ya think, wow those Dems are really smart to figure this one out!

    January 6, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    "He was looking at his career, looking at his record of accomplishments over the past 35 years, asking what else is there."

    Criminal prosecution would be an excellent start.

    January 6, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Willy Brown

    Time to put Dodd's in prison

    January 6, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Enough

    The beginning of the end of the Destruction party................out with ALL Democrats.

    January 6, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Joe W

    Couldn't agree more with Sen Dodd when he asked himself "....what else is there." He's already gotten his wife enough appointments on Corp Boards to keep the money coming in; he scammed, I meaned paid for, his vacation home in Ireland; he's taken care of his freinds at Fannie and Freddie; he can no longer get sweatheart deals on his mortgage and the majority of the people in the State of Connecticut and maybe the entire country despise him. Yeah, I'd say there's not much else he can do except run. Hopefully all the way to Ireland.

    January 6, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Jimmy Seven

    Another democRat leaving a sinking ship. 2010 will usher out a lot more, 2012 many more will also be involuntarily retired throgh the election process.

    The worm has turned, and America is fed up with the far left agenda.

    January 6, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Malt

    After he and other democrats helped push the economy in near collapse, I'm glad that his state isn't supporting him. Plus his corrupt deals with Countrywide and Fanny and Freddie (interest-free loans, $140K donations).

    Hopefully he will be replaced by an honest person (R or D) .

    (For those that didn't know, he is the chair of the banking committee...)

    January 6, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Gale

    Check out all the ticker reports. Democrats: Rats leaving a sinking ship. I'm sure Dodds was slightly persuaded by the Democratic Party to get out, he was a hopeless case, while they will try and replace him with a candidate more likely to overcome the odds, as the ship sinks slowing into the East.

    January 6, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. spencer blair

    Dead man walking.

    January 6, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Steve Illinois

    At least one of the main players responsible for the housing and financial crisis is retireing. He certainly has done "a hell of a lot" of damage! Of course he's hanging around long enough to finish the job on this joke of a health care reform bill!

    January 6, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. dave

    The party is more important than the principles. Republicans did it and now the Democrats are doing it too. What did Dodd do to make himself unwinnable?

    January 6, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    If a guy like Dodd is unwinnable, what does that say for other dems up for re-election. I'm telling you most voters are not happy! Maybe between now and Novemeber, that may change (depends on the economy).

    January 6, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. gt

    dodd is one of the senators who got this country in the mess its in now,,, retire ? he should go to prison,,,

    January 6, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |

    more proof that the democrats are going to be sent packing in the next election. It may be generations before democrats regain a majority in either house. As for our fearless leader, 2012 will be an end to this redistribution of wealth. Hopefully, we'll be able to turn this around and the damage to the economy and society won't be permanent.

    January 6, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. John

    The Democratic Party is in so much trouble come November it's not even funny...... I guess you can expect this when you try to ram a health care bill down the throats of the nation....when the majority of the people don't even want it.....

    Listen to the people and stop this bill...... otherwise....face the consequences of your actions in the fall....

    January 6, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. georgia

    Yes. . . never a good idea to move your family from the state you represent, especially in a doomed-from-the-start presidential bid.

    January 6, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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