Thursday, April 2, 2009

Former Congressman Rob Simmons will run against Connecticut's Senator Chris Dodd

Rob Simmons makes his pitch

It's election time again -- already! Rob Simmons, a former three-term Congressman who lost his eastern Connecticut seat in 2006 by a whisker has made it official: he's running against long-time Democratic Senator Chris Dodd in 2010.

Dodd may be the American politician of either party (so far) most damaged by the Wall Street bailouts and the "populist" backlash against pouring taxpayer money into wildly irresponsible companies like A.I.G. As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee (and Ranking Minority Member before that), Dodd has taken piles of dough from Wall Street. He has the dubious distinction of having raked in more money from A.I.G. sources than anyone else on Capitol Hill ($238,418). He's the guy who took the anti-A.I.G. bonus provision out of the stimulus bill and then tried to lie about it. And he's been getting some awful press for having received special cut-rate mortgages as a "friend" of Angelo Mozilo, CEO of predatory lender Countrywide Financial. He's also under an ethical cloud due to the dodgy circumstances of his owning an Irish "cottage."

It's no surprise, then, that Dodd is widely viewed as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat next year. A new Quinnipiac poll shows him losing to Simmons by a whopping 16 points, 50-34.

Simmons, 66, is an Army veteran who made a name for himself on defence issues in the House, boosting his popularity in a district where defense industries are big employers. Like most other New England Republicans, Simmons is a moderate on social and environmental issues. Nonetheless, he was swept away by the Democratic wave in 2006, losing by a mere 82 votes.

A Simmons-Dodd race is the sort of election in which the usual GOP-Democrat debates may be over-ridden by voter anger and disgust at Dodd's recidivist playing at the edges of corruption. Connecticut is supposedly one of the "bluest" states, but its voters are independent, and the center is a powerful swing force. (I know. Connecticut is my home state where I lived for 21 years.) While it now has a 100% Democratic Congressional delegation, Joe Lieberman is one of them, and Constitution State voters stuck with Joe when he ran as an independent. It's GOP Governor, Jodi Rell, is enormously popular.

All in all, I'd be mighty worried if I were Chris Dodd.

What are your thoughts about this (oh so early) race? Post a comment.

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