Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dodd needs to go; it's a Republican opening, but will a liberal Democrat challenge Dodd?


Conn. Senator Chris Dodd 's poll numbers are sliding. His job approval rating is 38 percent, and his job disapproval rating of 53 percent.
a) He has been too close to the financial services industry.
b) He has had some questionable financial doings.

Former Greenwich First Selectman Roger Pierson laid out some key points on both areas.
From the Litchfield County Times:
a) "He [Pierson] recalled that when the Congress revised the Glass-Steagall legislation of 1933, Senator Dorgan was quoted as saying, "You might as well call these financial services institutions casinos."
"In 10 years, 2009, you will rue the day you did this," Mr. Pearson quoted Mr. Dorgan as saying. "This is a harbinger of bad things to come."
He said that Mr. Dodd, who is now the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and other lawmakers made a poor decision in approving the revision, which he believes led to the crisis of last fall in the financial services sector.
The 1999 legislation was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), and U.S. Reps. James Leach (R-Iowa) and Thomas Bliley (R-Va.)
Mr. Pearson said in a recent interview that Glass-Steagall, which was established during the Great Depression, "created silos" for banks, insurance companies and brokerage houses.
"Human nature didn't change over the decades," he said. "What worked its way into the system again was greed."
Mr. Pearson said that 5 percent of the mortgages were subprime in 1999, and by July 2007, when the real estate market crashed, the figure had escalated to 30 percent.
. . . .
"He's become the banks' senator," said Mr. Pearson, who has a law practice in Stamford and represented some major tennis players years ago, including former Greenwich resident Ivan Lendl, who captured eight grand slam titles.
"He had a legislative record for the first 20 years that was distinguished," he said of Mr. Dodd. "The last 10 years was not so distinguished." "
b) "Mr. Dodd, who has been easily elected five times to the U.S. Senate, the longest career any Connecticut resident has had in the upper body, has, according to Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza, been in a "free fall" for more than a year as he has had to answer questions about the refinancing of two mortgages, a transaction on a home in Ireland and conflicting answers regarding his role in bonuses for executives at AIG, which has received federal funding during the financial crisis."
Alas Pierson, a decent critic of Dodd, is not what we need in the senate. He is a Jimmy Carter-style economic moderate. As we saw with the Ned /Lamont primary challenger to Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut electorate is not in the mood for a moderate.
Dodd's plummeting poll numbers suggest a fine opportunity for Republicans to launch a viable challenge. Rob Simmons is currently the news-making Republican 2010 challenger to Dodd. (He is a former U.S. House Representative from eastern Connecticut.)
Simmons is leading Dodd by 45 percent against 39 percent, according to the Quinnipiac Poll of May 25. (An April Quinnipiac poll put Simmons 16 points ahead of Dodd.)

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