Sen. Dodd to announce retirement
News comes shortly after Sen. Dorgan says he will not seek re-election
WASHINGTON - Five-term Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd will announce Wednesday that he is retiring ahead of his re-election this November, sources told NBC News policital director Chuck Todd.
The embattled Connecticut senator and Chairman of the Senate Banking
Dodd is facing troubling poll numbers and his popularity has dropped since his 2008 failed run for president.
Word of his retirement comes hours after North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan announced he would not seek re-election, giving Republicans a good shot at picking up the seat, especially if GOP Gov. John Hoeven decides to run.
Dorgan, a moderate who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 after serving a dozen years in the House, said he reached the decision after discussing his future with family over the
"Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life," he said in a statement.
Democrats were confident heading into the new year that Dorgan would run for re-election even as rumors intensified that Hoeven would challenge him in November.
Early polling showed Dorgan trailing Hoeven in a hypothetical contest, and Democrats expected a competitive race if the matchup materialized.
For quite some time, Republicans have been courting Hoeven to run against Dorgan. Tuesday's news might make that sell to Hoeven much easier.
Currently, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the North Dakota contest as "solid Democrat." That rating will change, especially if Hoeven gets in.
Susan Walsh / AP
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., says he will not seek re-election.
Democrats insist they will field a strong candidate to run in Dorgan's place, and recruitment already was under way Tuesday. Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who was first elected to the House in 1992, could be interested in seeking the Senate seat, along with Heidi Heitkamp, a former state attorney general and tax commissioner who was defeated by Hoeven in the 2000 gubernatorial race.