Senate Banking Chair Dodd Not to Seek Re-election

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd has decided not to run for a sixth term in the Senate. The embattled chairman of the Senate Banking Committee made his announcement this afternoon at a press conference in his home state, saying, “In the long sweep of American history there are moments for each elected public official to step aside… this is my moment to step aide.”

Dodd has been the subject of intense criticism of late, particularly after news surfaced in the wake of the housing bubble that “Dodd had received special treatment in his acquisition of a mortgage loan from Countrywide Financial, through a program that labeled him and others as friends of Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo.” Dodd was ultimately cleared by an ethics committee, but even those proceedings appeared to push the matter under carpet so that the senator could focus on major pieces of legislation that have been before Congress. Dodd is also on committees that deal with health care and the war on terror.

In his speech this afternoon, Dodd said he is “very aware of my present political standing,” but said predicting whether or not he could win in 2010 would be foolish. The move is will allow him to move forward on financial services reform legislation with fear of a backlash from voters and an embarrassing end to a long political career.

Dodd also gave us this intriguing tidbit in his press conference: “There’s nothing more pathetic in my view than a politician who announces he is only leaving public life to spend more time with his family… It’s not the reason for my decision… I’m still driven by the same passions that motivated me to try my hand at politics so many, many years ago.”