Sen. Byron Dorgan announces retirement
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has announced that he will not stand for re-election this year, "creating a major pickup opportunity for Republicans," as Chris Cillizza puts it.
North Dakota is a solidly red state, after all -- despite Dorgan's solid hold on the seat since '92 -- and whoever the Republican nominee is (probably Gov. John Hoeven) will be a heavy favourite to be Dorgan's successor.
So is this "un-spinnably bad news for the Democrats," as Nate Silver puts it? It's hard to think otherwise at this point.
And with a loss likely, Democrats will just have to look elsewhere to pick up a seat to maintain the status quo.
Dorgan isn't the only Democrat stepping down this year. As Cillizza is reporting, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is "expected to announce he will not seek re-election" at a press conference later today.
The difference here is that the Democrats should hold the seat, with State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Dodd's likely successor. (Given Dodd's deep unpopularity in his home state, Blumenthal should be a stronger Democratic candidate anyway.)
But back to Dorgan. Through my connections at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, I published two guest posts by him this past fall, and I encourage you to check them out:
-- Inspector General to investigate Army's response to exposure of U.S. troops to deadly chemicals in Iraq; and
He was at times too centrist and Republican-friendly for my liking, but he was solidly liberal on many of the issues that really matter, and his retirement will be a loss both for the Senate and for the Democratic Party.