Dodd Faces Potential Primary Challenger in 2010 Senate Race

The sharks are circling around politically wounded Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut after his role in the AIG bonus fiasco came to light last month.

Dodd, who a poll shows is trailing several potential Republican challengers in next year's Senate race, may not even make it to a general election if he can't fend off a challenge from within his own party.

Roger Pearson, a Democrat from Greenwich, Conn., told a Hartford Courant columnist this week that he has formed a committee to explore a run for his party's 2010 nomination.

Pearson, an attorney, lost his previous bid for a congressional seat against then-Rep. Christopher Shays in 1988. In 2006, he endorsed Ned Lamont in Lamont's Democratic primary victory against Sen. Joseph Lieberman, whose political troubles at the time resembled Dodd's now, though Lieberman was in hot water with Democrats over his support for the Iraq war. Pearson endorsed Lieberman in the general election when he ran as an independent and defeated Lamont.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed Dodd with record low approval ratings, at just 33 percent, a dip from 44 percent in a March 10 poll.

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican who has announced his intent to run against Dodd, is leading the five-term senator 50 to 34 percent in a hypothetical head-to-head.

In two other matchups with Republicans, Dodd trails state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, 41 to 37 percent, and former ambassador Tom Foley, 43 to 35 percent.

Dodd, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is under heavy fire for initially denying, then admitting that he added a provision to President Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill that exempted previously negotiated bonuses at federally bailed out companies like AIG from certain pay restrictions.