Friday, January 8, 2010

US Sen Dodd Now Immune to Lobbyists As Builds Fin Reform

WASHINGTON (MNI) - Without a reelection campaign ahead, Sen. Chris Dodd will be more immune to financial industry lobbyists as he spends perhaps months completing the Senate version of financial industry regulatory reform.

Dodd is surprising the Washington lobbying establishment by announcing later today he will not seek reelection, making it easier for Democrats to hold on to the Connecticut senate seat. The state's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is expected to run instead and be a stronger candidate than Dodd.

Before then, however, Dodd's decision is likely to alter the dynamics of the high-stakes drafting project that pits the banking and financial services industry against Dodd's efforts to revamp the way government relates to Wall Street.

As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Dodd has already faced storms of criticism for his leading role in crafting the emergency measures that appeared necessary during the financial crisis but in retrospect were political liabilities.

The announcement Tuesday by North Dakota's Byron Dorgan that he also is leaving the Senate was as much of a surprise as Dodd's announcement but appeared to be less significant for the course of 2010 legislation. However Dorgan's voice as a deficit hawk will be missed by his fellow Capitol Hill campaigners for fiscal responsibility.

Dorgan's departure could also offer a new opportunity for Republicans, given the realities of North Dakota politics.

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