CT-Sen: Dodd Takes The Fall On Bonus Scandal

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 12:53

In the wake of the AIG bonus scandal, Connecticut Senate Chris Dodd is in serious trouble for re-election. In fact, the odds are now that he will lose, as a new Quinnipiac poll shows him trialing Republican challenger Rob Simmons by a whopping 16%:

Quinnipiac, March 26-31, 1,181 RVs, MoE 2.9 (March 8th numbers in parenthesis)
Simmons 50% (43%)
Dodd: 34% (42%)

This simply must be the result of the AIG scandal. Could anything else have possibly hurt Dodd so badly over the past twenty-five days? It is a painful irony that Dodd is the one taking the fall on this, given that he was the Senator trying to write stronger limits on executive compensation into the stimulus package, and it was other members who stripped it out. The Democrats who were in the room know what happened, and might be able to help Dodd if they fess up on who stripped the language.

Otherwise, not to be bleak or anything, it might not be possible for Dodd to recover from a deficit like this. It is true that a Research 2000 / Daily Kos poll taken just before this Quinnipiac poll showed Dodd ahead of Simmons by 5%, so one of those polls (or both) is very, very wrong. So, it is probably best to wait for a third confirming poll to develop a better sense of the campaign.

However, if the Q-poll is correct, than this is better than the advantage Bob Casey started out with against Rick Santorum in 2005, and akin to the advantage Tom Udall started with in New Mexico in 2007.  Those campaigns ended up in 17.36% and 22.66% blowouts respectively, as the incumbent and incumbent party never recovered. I'd be hard pressed to find any incumbent Senator that has ever recovered from a 16% deficit. While the so-called "incumbent rule," where challengers gain the overwhelming percentage of undecideds in campaigns with incumbents, does not hold up as well as it used to, it is still safe to say that trailing by 16% with a name ID over 90% is a bad position. What is worse for Dodd in the poll is that he is also losing by 4% to a lesser known Republican State Senator, meaning that much of his deficit is specific to Simmons, who many Connecticut voters seems to consider an acceptable Republican, rather than just to an anti-Dodd sentiment. As such, retaining this seat will probably require either Dodd not seeking re-election, or Simmons being defeated in a Club for Growth fueled primary.

If Dodd were to step aside, it is a lock that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal would be able to retain the seat for Democrats. A February Q-poll recent poll showed Blumenthal defeating Lieberman by 28% in the general election, and with a 79%-12% approval rating. While it would be unfortunate to lose such a rock-solid chance to defeat Lieberman, recent polling from Research 2000 has shown that Ned Lamont is still primed to defeat Lieberman in 2012 if he decides to run again. Of course, while Lamont and Blumenthal remain solid bench candidates for Democrats in the state, Republicans have their own in Governor Jodi Rell. The same poll showing Dodd down 16% shows Rell with a 72% approval rating. All of this guarantees that Connecticut will be a big state, possibly the top state, to watch on the Senate front for the next four years.

Chris Bowers :: CT-Sen: Dodd Takes The Fall On Bonus Scandal

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it's time for Dodd to step aside. (0.00 / 0)
We have other great progressives in the state.

Dodd has his merits, but he has his baggage as well. It's time for someone fresh.

Dodd stepping aside now would be ideal... (4.00 / 2)
I have liked Dodd on other issues, but we should have higher standards.  It is guys like Dodd who should be solid progressives considering the states they represent.  I would feel better about this if it were a House seat which wouldn't be as hard to retake in two years rather than six, because even if we lost the seat now the chance to get it back with a real progressive could have been worth it.

I am really learning to hate the Senate.  Perhaps I just bought into all the CW about it being the 'higher', deliberative chamber and since I have drop the MSM I am getting the real picture, but it really seems that over the past twenty years the Senate represents all the worst aspects of politics that has caused so many to take the 'pox on both their houses' approach to voting.

[ Parent ]
It's not fair for Dodd to take the heat (4.00 / 1)
Everyone agrees the bonus protection was pushed through by the Treasury department against his objections. But, hopefully, Congresspeople will learn that going along with Treasury's bad ideas can cost them their jobs.

Dodd is being used as a scapegoat... (4.00 / 1)
...by the media, the administration and the Majority Leader.

Until we correctly place the blame where it belongs (Senator Phil Gramm and the Republicans who drove through deregulation in a number of pieces of legislation throughout the 90's) we will continue to lose good men and women trying to find good solutions and lose the overall policy/ideology war.

From Wikipedia:
Gramm was one of five co-sponsors of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000[5]. One provision of the bill is often referred to as the "Enron loophole" because some critics blame the provision for permitting the Enron scandal to occur.[6]. Some argue[who?] that it is significant that Gramm's wife, Wendy Lee Gramm, was on the board of directors of Enron when it collapsed, and she was named in many of the Enron shareholder lawsuits.

Dodd became chairman of banking in 2007, but did not have a majority until Tim Johnson returned to the Senate following his health issues in September 2007.  Senator Johnson gave Dodd a 1 vote majority on the committee, the 08 elections increased the majority to 13-10 as of Jan09.

But the damage was done with deregulation in the 90's, when Senator Gramm was chairman of the Committee from 1995 to 2000 and again following the reorganization in 2001, Senator Paul Sarbanes chaired in the middle and immediately after, followed by Senator Richard Shelby, now ranking Republican on the Committee.

Where was Dodd?  A relatively junior man on the banking committee, his efforts int he 90's were focused more on the HELP Committee where he pushed through the FMLA and later on the Fire and SAFER acts - bills that put needed resources/tools in the hands of first responders.

We need to stop allowing the media, local, national or webbased to push mythology like this, they are taking a talking point and turning it in to a whole campaign distracting us from the real situation and the real solutions.  Dodd stood up just a few days ago and pushed a fairly stringent credit card reform bill out of his committee - did anyone notice?  Did the media give him any credit for making an effort to undo the mistakes made deregulating the finance industry in the 90's providing significant relief to American consumers?  Learn more about it here.

I worked for Senator Dodd's Presidential Campaign in Iowa and am proud to have done so.  I am not currently employed or otherwise obligated to his office or campaign in any way.  I'd take a job working for him in a heartbeat, he is a good man with a passion for service and the Constitution.

[ Parent ]
The current brouhaha is over the AIG bonuses (0.00 / 0)
Nobody's talking about him being responsible for deregulation. They're holding him responsible for the fact the the Dodd amendment, as it showed up in the final signed legislation, protected all bonuses up to early February 2009, and thus the AIG bonuses that have the population metaphorically in arms.

[ Parent ]
He wrote the amendment banning the bonuses. (4.00 / 2)
The administration gutted it and threw him under the bus.  He didn't do himself any favors by trying to defuse the grenade (with a hammer) as it was exploding, but the fact remains he wrote the amendment banning the bonuses.

He also authored the much more stringent version of the TARP legislation which was gutted and refilled with much weaker provisions/scrutiny.  Who gets the blame, Harry Reid and President Obama or Chris Dodd?

The current brouhaha is about the whole mess, it isn't one thing, its all of it piled together, the bonuses is an easy thing for people to latch on to and fire back with but not everything they are mad about.

The Connecticut papers are still lambasting him for mortgages that independent entities have said were not at all outside the norm for that time period given similar credit ratings and income levels/stability.  They don't care.  It makes good press, sells papers, gets viewers.

The Dodd Amendment did not "protect" bonuses up to feb09, it just didn't provide additional restrictions upon them.  It isn't like if the Amendment wasn't there the bonuses would have disappeared.  And again, this is a distraction, we are focused on this 160 Million or whatever it is, while a trillion gets shoveled out the back door into the back of pickup trucks...and they aren't even American made trucks.

If you were the banking/finance industry or the beneficiaries of their success, what would your strategy be to prevent reverting to the original (or more stringent) regulations and avoid potential investigation into your own actions for potential criminal charges?  As a strategist, the smart move is to do everything you can to taint the people most likely to lead the charge against you.  That is what we are seeing.  A grand effort to turn the chairman of the Banking Committee into an ineffective joke scoffed at by the people.

[ Parent ]
Oh, shoot... (0.00 / 0)
I posted a quick hit on this before scrolling down and reading the story... feel free to delete it, Chris...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

If Dodd doesn't step aside (0.00 / 0)
Yet seemed likely to lose, is there any value in someone more "electable" launching a primary challenge to Dodd?

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