Sen. Christopher Dodd, (D-Connecticut), is expected to hold a news conference Wednesday in his home state to announce that he won't seek reelection for a sixth term, according to news reports.
Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who was the principal author of legislation that bailed out foundering Wall Street banks to the tune of $700 billion, will become the second Democratic senator in the past 24 hours to announce his retirement.
Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-North Dakota), stunned colleagues and constituents by announcing his intention to retire in order to spend more time on personal endeavors.
According to the Washington Post, Dodd's pending announcement that he will retire is the best shot Democrats have at holding onto the senate seat.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, the Post reported, is the "most popular politician in the state" and "has long coveted a Senate seat, and he had already signaled that he would run for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I) in 2012."
Former Rep. Rob Simmons and businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling for the Republican nomination, but either would start as an underdog in a general-election match-up with Blumenthal.
Dodd, 65, was first elected to Congress in 1974. He launced a bid for the White House in 2008 but dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses. Dodd was the most vulnerable among Democratic lawmakers facing reelection this year.
As the Post noted, part of the reason he fell out of favor with Democratic voters was due to reports last year that Dodd had "received special treatment in his acquisition of a mortgage loan from [subprime mortgage company] Countrywide Financial, through a program that labeled him and others as friends of Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo."
"Dodd insisted he was unaware of his inclusion in the program, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee, but the political damage was done," the Post reported.
Dodd also received $103,000 during the 2008 election cycle from embattled insurance giant AIG--more than than any other elected official. President Barack Obama came in a close second with $101,000.
In recent months, he emerged as a leading figure in the health care reform debate and was instrumental in drafting the Senate's version of legislation to overhaul the health care industry.