Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is prepared to announce his bid for retiring Sen. Chris Dodd's seat, according to reports, just hours after Dodd formally says he will not seek re-election this year. Blumenthal's swift announcement signals his strong positioning as a Democratic candidate but also the weakness Republicans will likely try to exploit -- his relationship with the beleaguered Dodd.
Blumenthal, who has served as attorney general since 1990, is expected to announce at 2:30 p.m. ET today that he will run for Dodd's Senate seat. Dodd will formally announce his retirement at Noon.
The five-term attorney general enters the race with a high approval rating -- a Nov. 2009 Quinnipiac poll showed that 78 percent of Connecticut voters approved of him.
Described as "a golden boy of New England politics " in the New York Times, Blumenthal has been preparing for a Senate race for some time and was reportedly ready to take on independent Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2012.
In his tenure as attorney general, Blumenthal has taken on corporate giants like Microsoft and tobacco companies, the New York Times reports.
Given Blumenthal's strong record and popularity, analysts are largely concluding Blumenthal will be a much stronger candidate for the Democrats than Dodd, whose poll numbers began sinking about two years ago.
Public Policy Polling even released a message on Twitter Tuesday night that read, "Our CT polling is confirming a Blumenthal/Dodd swap would make the seat uber safe for Dems."
Blumenthal is "uniquely suited to step into this campaign, win this race, and represent the people of Connecticut in Washington, D.C. as we continue to confront unprecedented challenges,'' Roy Occhiogrosso, a Democratic consultant, told the Hartford Courant.
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It may come as no surprise, then, for Blumenthal to announce his candidacy so quickly. Josh Kraushaar of Politico notes, however, that his announcement also "underscores the fact that Blumenthal is Dodd's handpicked favorite, and has the backing of the entire Democratic establishment, both in Washington and Connecticut."
The attorney general supported Dodd when he came under fire for his relationship to mortgage lender Countrywide Financial -- a company that Blumenthal sued. Dodd released his 2003 mortgage documents in Feb. 2009 after delaying to do so initially.
"That corporation has a lot of answering to do," Blumenthal said during a local news broadcast early last year, "and I believe that Chris Dodd may regret having waited to disclose some of those facts, but there's no evidence of wrongdoing on his part anymore than victims who were misled and deceived by Countrywide."
The GOP is already jumping on Blumenthal's approach to the controversy.
"As Dodd's protege, Richard Blumenthal, attempts to replace him in Washington, voters need not look much further than Blumenthal's complete disregard for Dodd's actions with Countrywide to see what kind of Senator he would be," Amber Wilkerson Marchand, spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement. "As Attorney General, Blumenthal looked the other way on Senator Dodd's unethical indiscretions, but voters won't look the other way when they cast their ballots to restore checks and balances in Washington this November."