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Let’s Play Democratic Musical Chairs

So what’s some of the fallout from the multiple retirements in the US Senate?

• ND-Sen: Earl Pomeroy (D), the state’s only House member, will not try to move up and run for the Senate seat vacated by Byron Dorgan. The most speculation on the Democratic side has focused on former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, as well as MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, who got a personal call from the minority leader of the state House asking him to consider a run. Schultz kicked off his broadcasting career in North Dakota.

It should also be noted that some progressive groups are begging Dorgan not to retire.

• CO-Gov: Among the many names cropping up to replace Bill Ritter as the Democratic nominee for Governor is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The former Colorado Senator wouldn’t answer questions about the Governor’s race today. That opens up a whole host of possibilities for Interior Secretary (including, possibly, Byron Dorgan).

• Senate Committees: Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan both chair committees in the Senate, and their departure would lead other Democrats to move up. The Hill reports that Tim Johnson (D-SD) would take over the Senate Banking Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) would take over Indian Affairs. I find it a bit hard to believe that Johnson, who had a brain hemorrhage in 2006 and still suffers from ill effects, would be made the point person on a committee dealing with the continued fallout from the financial crisis. But the big-money boys would certainly love him there, as he would be a loyal vote for the banks and credit card companies.

• Treasury? As for Chris Dodd, Roll Call has speculated about a possible future role for him in the Obama Administration, including the Treasury Department:

Speculation has also begun about potential employment for Dodd in the Obama administration.

For instance, several Democratic Senate aides noted that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is an extremely unpopular figure in the Senate. Geithner has also taken the brunt of the criticism for the administration’s handling of the economy and, these sources speculated, if the country’s financial picture does not brighten before Election Day, he could be the first secretary to leave the administration.

Although Dodd would appear to be well-situated to take control of Treasury if the position were to open, it may not be smooth sailing for his nomination.

I don’t know how serious this is; nobody at the White House is making this speculation, only Senate aides.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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