After interviewing Senator Chris Dodd this week in his office in Washington and covering his final speech on the senate floor, I came to a quick conclusion: being a senator is one cool job, and leaving that job must be tough. From the suite of fireplace laden offices on Capitol Hill to visits with world leaders and celebrities to trips abroad, the job of senator has plenty of irresistable perks. Throw in a staff of roughly 70 people, a pool and gym just for the senate and their families, and you get the picture. Not to the mention the location of the senate workplace. I step out of my workplace into a listless office park devoid of anything architecturally stimulating. A senator steps out to a view of some of the most beautiful and historic buildings on the planet. What’s not to love?
Under an oil painting of his father, the late Senator Thomas Dodd, Senator Chris Dodd and I look at his wall of photographs chronicling his years of meeting with dignitaries
When Senator Dodd announced in January he would retire rather than seek what would be a bruising re-election, his friend Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey implored him to reconsider, saying he would miss the senate. Lautenberg should know. He served in the senate from 1982 to 2001 then retired. He missed the old job so much he ran for the other senate seat in New Jersey in 2002 and was elected at the age of 78. He’s now 86.
Another Dodd friend who wanted back in is Senator-elect Dan Coats of Indiana, who didn’t seek re-election in 1998, but ran this year and won. He’ll be sworn in on the same day as Dick Blumenthal.
Dodd would never run against his old friend Joe Lieberman in 2012, but what if Lieberman didn’t run? I asked that question of Dodd this week and he laughed it off, saying he is retiring from the senate.
To naysayers who say Dodd is too old, keep in mind he is younger than Coats, and only a year and half older than Blumenthal. Eight (8) of Dodd’s Senate colleagues who were re-elected in November are older than he is.
As much as Dodd might miss the senate, the key would be whether voters will have a change of opinion of him and want him back. Polls a year ago showed he would have lost his re-election, and his approval ratings were dismal.
Dodd says “no” now, but down the road when he looks back at those days in the senate, who knows!
Tune in this Sunday at 11AM for a special edition of Face the State from Washington and our interview with the longest serving U.S. Senator in Connecticut history.