Banking chief Dodd to leave US Senate

January 6, 2010

By Thomas Ferraro and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Veteran Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd,  leader of a financial regulation overhaul in the Senate, said on Wednesday he will not seek re-election in November in recognition that he faced an uphill battle and underscoring upheaval facing President Barack Obama’s Democrats.

Dodd, 65, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has been dogged by questions over his financial industry connections and was trailing badly in polls in his home state of Connecticut.

Dodd’s decision may well help Democrats hang on to his seat. Republicans conceded that Democratic chances would improve in the event that Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, runs for the seat, and he told CNBC that he planned to do so.

Announcing his decision in East Haddam, Conn., Dodd said he found himself in the “toughest political shape of my career” but that he thought it was absurd to suggest there was no way he could win in November.

However, he said, a number of challenges over the past year — battling prostate cancer and the death of his sister — had prompted him to take stock of his life.

“I came to the conclusion that in the long sweep of American history, there are moments for each elected public official to step aside and let someone else step up. This is my moment to step aside,” he said.

Wall Street was looking for clues as to how hard Dodd, in his remaining months in office, would push for a financial regulation revamp that banking lobbyists and Republicans are fighting. A source close to Dodd said he plans to continue efforts to pass the regulation reforms.

Dodd has also been closely associated with pushing Obama’s healthcare agenda, subject of a long, contentious debate, as well as climate change legislation that faces an uncertain future this year.

See also: Dodd’s exit roils financial reform

(Additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Richard Cowan and David Morgan, editing by Paul Simao and Vicki Allen)

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