Present term: January 2005 to January 2011.
Election history: Dodd was elected to the Senate in 1980, succeeding Democrat Abraham Ribicoff, who retired after 18 years as a senator. Dodd was re-elected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004, never with less than 59 percent of the vote.
Dodd also was elected to three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning in 1974.
He announced on Jan. 6, 2010 that he is not seeking re-election in 2010.
2004 general election
|Christopher J. Dodd (D)||945,347||66 percent|
|Jack Orchulli (R)||457,749||32 percent|
|Timothy A. Knibbs (*CC)||12,442||1 percent|
|Leonard H. Rasch (**L)||9,188||1 percent|
*Concerned citizens, **Libertarian
Campaign finance: Dodd spent $3.9 million to Orchulli’s $1.5 million in 2004.
Background: Dodd is the state’s senior U.S. senator and the first from Connecticut to be elected to five terms. He entered his re-election year of 2010 at the peak of his political influence in Washington and the nadir of his political strength at home.
On Jan. 6, he stood outside his home in East Haddam, a converted schoolhouse overlooking the Connecticut River, on a spot where he had formally launched campaigns every six years over the previous decades.
“On each of these occasions I have begun my remarks by observing that every important journey in life begins and ends at home. Today is no exception,” Dodd said. “What is different about today, however, is not to announce the beginning of yet another campaign for the Senate, but rather to announce that after 35 years of representing the people of Connecticut in the United States Congress, I will not be a candidate for re-election this November.”
Dodd had suffered a string of political setbacks since ending his sputtering presidential candidacy after a sixth-place finish January 2008 in the Iowa caucuses. Connecticut voters already were grumbling that Dodd’s presidential campaign had been an indulgent folly that kept him AWOL from his post as Senate Banking chairman during the credit crisis. Then a wave of bad press hit.
In June 2008, a Portfolio.com article accused him of getting favorable treatment on refinanced mortgages from Countrywide Financial. He was uncharacteristically slow in responding, allowing Republicans to brand the mortgages as an “$800,000 sweetheart deal.” Dodd eventually released documents that showed he and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, were qualified for the loans, which were at widely available commercial rates. Countrywide did, however, allow Dodd to take advantage of falling rates after he had locked in.
His troubles were not over. His long-ago purchases of a condominium in Washington and vacation home in Ireland with the help of wealthy friends set off a fresh wave of questions about his financial dealings, primarily from Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie. This time, he was quicker to respond. But it became clear that Dodd would have to spend 2010 fighting harder than he did in his first race for Congress in 1974, defending his record and fending off suggestions at home and in the national press that he relinquish the Democratic nomination to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. At the end of 2009, Dodd’s trailed two Republican challengers in a Quinnipiac poll. An internal poll was little better.
Dodd’s troubles fit into a compelling narrative. His father was Thomas Dodd, whose own U.S. Senate career ended after censure for the misuse of campaign funds. Unable to win the Democratic nomination, he ran as an independent in 1970 and finished third behind Democrat Joseph Duffey and the winner, Republican Lowell P. Weicker Jr.
Chris Dodd was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic during the censure vote, but he managed the ill-fated 1970 campaign. It is difficult to find the profile of Dodd that fails to mention the portrait of the father that is conspicuously featured in the Washington office of the son.
Aside from his Peace Corps service and two years practicing law, Dodd’s working life has been spent in Congress. He was elected to an open seat in the 2nd Congressional District in the post-Watergate year of 1974. In 1980, he became the youngest U.S. senator ever elected from Connecticut.
In Washington, he made a mark for a lively social life after his first marriage ended in divorce, but also for his expertise on Latin American issues and health care.
With the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, Dodd succeeded in winning passage of his Family and Medical Leave Act, which had been twice vetoed. The law guaranteed workers the right to take unpaid leave for newborn child care or to care for sick family members. Eva Bunnell, whose struggles to care for a chronically ill child was an inspiration for the law, was among those who stood with him as he withdrew from the race.
Dodd became a favorite of firefighters with the passage of legislation that has provided $3 billion in grants to train and equip emergency personnel. Unionized firefighters turned out for him in Iowa in 2008, as they did for John Kerry in 2004.
As the New York Times editorialized on the day after his withdrawal, Dodd’s record as an overseer of the financial markets and credit industry was mixed. He moved strenuously to protect consumers against predatory credit-card policies, but he also was a prime beneficiary of campaign contributions from Wall Street. At the behest of the Obama administration, he allowed a payout of bonuses to A.I.G. executive.
Twice, he jumped too late into a contest for the Senate Democratic leader. In 1994, he lost to Tom Daschle of South Dakota by a single vote, 24 to 23. President Clinton named him chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Dodd thought about running again for the Senate Democratic leadership post after Daschle lost in 2004, but Harry Reid of Nevada already had lined up the votes.
In 1999, Dodd remarried. He and his wife, Jackie, are the parents of two girls, Grace and Christina.
Dodd became chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee after Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006. He also had key roles on the Foreign Relations and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees. With Ted Kennedy’s illness and Joe Biden’s nomination for vice president, Dodd essentially ran three major committees in 2008.
He played at a central role in the Senate passage of a health-reform bill after dawn on December 24, 2009. An hour later, Dodd said, he stood at the grave of his friend, Ted Kennedy, and thought all those he had seen come and go from the Senate.
“I thought about the dozens of patriotic Senators with whom I have had the privilege of serving in an institution I dearly love. I have been a Connecticut Senator for 30 years. I’m proud of the job I’ve done and the results delivered,” he said. “But none of us are irreplaceable. None of us are indispensible. Those who think otherwise are dangerous.”
Education: B.A., Providence College; J.D., University of Louisville School of Law
2008 Financial Disclosure: Dodd had a net worth in 2008 of between $534,018 and $1,744,999, ranking him 66th in the Senate, according to review of his financial disclosure statement by the Center for Responsive Politics.
To view a full report of his investments, click here.