U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal

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Present term: January 2007 to January 2011

Election history: Blumenthal was elected in 1990, suceeding Democrat Clarine Nardi Riddle, who had been appointed to complete the unexpired term of Joseph I. Lieberman.

Blumenthal was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1984 and the state Senate in 1986, serving two terms.

He is running for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

2006 general election

Richard Blumenthal (D) 782,235  (74 percent)

Robert Farr (R)             256,018  (24 percent)

Nancy Burton (G)           17,684    (2 percent)

Background: Richard Blumenthal, the state’s longest-serving attorney general and its most popular Democrat, repeatedly teased Connecticut with talk of making a run for governor, the only office of significance seemingly beyond the reach of the state’s dominant Democratic Party. But it became increasingly clear over the years that his only higher ambition in politics was a seat in the U.S. Senate.

There are two ways get to the Senate. Be bold enough to challenge a senator, never an easy thing when the incumbent shares a party affiliation. Or be lucky enough and patient enough to be ready when a seat opens, say, every 30 years or so.

Blumenthal’s patience was rewarded at noon on Jan. 6, when U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd stepped outside his front door in East Haddam and announced he would not seek re-election after 30 years in the Senate, a concession to time and age, poor polling and an ill-tempered electorate. Two-and-a-half hours later, Blumenthal stepped to a microphone at Democratic headquarters in Hartford and declared himself in the race.

“Today is Senator Dodd’s day,” Blumenthal said. But then he grinned and said, “The United States Senate has been a public-service goal for me for a long time.”

The goal suddenly is in jeopardy over how Blumenthal has referred to his military record. Days before the Democratic State Convention in May, The New York Times reported that Blumenthal, a stateside Marine Reservist during the Vietnam war, had on occasion referred to serving in Vietnam. He immediately tried to minimize the damage as an occasional misstatement, noting that in his official biography and in most speeches he never claimed to have served overseas.

This is not the case of a lifelong fabulist suddenly unmasked. Without embellishment, Blumenthal has repeatedly and accurately described his military service as a stateside Marine Reservist. Even one of his Republican opponents, Vietnam veteran Rob Simmons, said he never was under the misimpression that Blumenthal was a fellow vet. But on occasion he has unequivocally placed himself in Vietnam. On Veterans Day in 2008, he was quoted by The Advocate of Stamford as telling a crowd, “I wore the uniform in Vietnam.”

Other saying he “misspoke,” Blumenthal offered no explanation of how he could make such a mistake. A Quinnipiac poll conducted May 25 and 26 found a majority of voters accepting that his statements were a mistake, not a lie. He led Republican Linda McMahon by 19 percentage points in military households and 25 points overall.

Blumenthal is in the mold of the activist state attorneys general who came to prominence during the 1980s, taking on anti-trust and other cases that Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department declined and providing regulatory bite in an otherwise laissez-faire era. A predecessor in the office, Joseph I. Lieberman, used such cases as a launching pad to the U.S. Senate in 1988.

For much of his tenure, it was as if Blumenthal had to apologize for still being state attorney general. He has that kind of resume. Wrote for The Crimson at Harvard. Edited the Law Journal at Yale, followed by clerking for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. He was an aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House, an aide to Abraham Ribicoff in the Senate and then the youngest U.S. attorney in the nation at age 31.

The onetime wunderkind turned 64 on Feb. 13, 2010.

As Slate noted 10 years ago in a profile about his inability to leverage a remarkable resume into higher office, “Blumenthal is blessed with every political virtue except recklessness and luck.”

His luck finally turned when Dodd decided to retire. It remains to be seen if his good fortune will be undone by recklessness over his choice of words.

Blumenthal is married and has four children. He lives in Greenwich.

Education: B.A., Harvard College; L.L.B., Yale University Law School

2008 Financial Disclosure: Blumenthal reported outside income from “private investments,” but no publicly traded securities.

His wife is the former Cynthia A. Malkin, whose family controls about 10 million square feet of commercial space in New York, including the Empire State Building. His disclosure form reports that his wife has a partnership interest in many of her family’s real estate holdings, including Empire State Building Associates, LLC.

He filed a confidential addendum listing any debts exceeding $10,000. He declined to release the addendum, as is his choice under the law.

A note on financial disclosure: Every spring, officials are required to disclose the ownership of real estate, the source of any income exceeding $1,000 in the previous calendar year and securities worth more than $5,000. They also are required to file an addendum in which they report any debt of more than $10,000; this may by law be kept confidential.