Contrary to the expectations of many, Chris Dodd has decided to turn down the chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee, choosing instead to stay at the helm of Banking. Dodd and his office have yet to comment on his decision (which will also result in Tom Harkin taking over HELP and Blanche Lincoln over Agriculture). But many observers (including myself) judged that Dodd might fare better politically by taking the HELP torch from Kennedy to push through the health care reform bill. That being said, The Washington Post notes that, despite Dodd's decision, he won't be disappearing from the health reform debate any time soon:
When the Senate takes up that critical legislation later this year, Dodd is expected to continue being the public face of that committee's effort, a decision that might give him a boost in a tough reelection battle in 2010.
If that's true, and Dodd stays in the spotlight of the health care reform debate, he could conceivably have the best of both worlds, in terms of his re-election effort: getting credit for assisting Kennedy's great liberal crusade, while benefiting from the hefty campaign contributions he'll continue to accrue as Banking chairman. But whether he can disentangle himself from his potentially damaging associations with the financial industry at the same time remains unclear.