Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd both announced yesterday that they won’t be running for re-election. But two in this case isn’t really a trend. Dorgan quitting is a disaster for his party, turning a very likely hold seat into a very likely GOP pickup. The Dodd thing is the reverse. Idiosyncratic-to-Dodd questions about integrity were jeopardizing what will be a safe seat in the hands of Attorney General Blumenthal or any of the CT House Democrats. Somewhat ironically, in stepping down Dodd is actually exhibiting a ton of integrity—doing the right thing for his country, his party, and the progressive political movement. It’s an instinct that’s all too rare in the modern US Senate.
This reminds me that if there’s something you want to criticize the Obama administration for, I would say it’s been his failure, qua party leader, to do a better job of prepping for the 2010 midterms. Democrats are not running their strongest possible candidates for Senate races in North Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, or Arizona and now you can add North Dakota to that list. Beau Biden hasn’t announced yet in Delaware so you may need to add another recruiting fail. The lack of objective political danger for opponents of his agenda is a much bigger deal, legislatively speaking, than any tactical errors within the legislative arena.