Exodus For Dodd, Ritter, Dorgan -- What It Means

More

Bad news comes in threes. Just hours after Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced his retirement, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter notified his campaign that he, too, would not seek re-election. Late tonight, aides to Chris Dodd sent word that the long-time senator from Connecticut would also be stepping aside.

There are individual, candidate-specific reasons for each withdrawal, but each candidate, because of the national environment, faced tough re-election campaigns. Dodd was in the most danger, his image never recovering from his association with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozillo and an impression that he had abandoned the state. The Democrat who will likely replace Dodd as the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, is popular, and will probably be favored to win over either of the two Republican candidates, Linda McMahon and former Rep. Rob Simmons.

Colorado is a tough state for Democrats. Senate incumbent Michael Bennet has an even chance, at best, of retaining his seat, and Ritter has suffered from an erosion of his base support at a time when he's been forced to  make unpopular budget decisions. Democrats may fare better if ex-House Speaker Andrew Romanoff decides to run for governor and not challenge Bennet in the Senate primary.

On balance, Republicans today gained a foothold in North Dakota, and Democrats increased their likelihood of keeping their Senate seat in Connecticut. Privately, senior White House officials have communicated to Dodd their belief that his position was untenable. A sinecure or administration position is likely.

Bottom line: from a micro perspective, the GOP gains nothing from today. From a macro perspective, anytime three major Democratic party figures retire...ain't good for that party.

The biggest lesson from today is psychological. There are a lot of Democrats who want to retire, and their colleagues, in essence, are giving them cover to do so. That's what makes Democrats so nervous.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In