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Hispanics Lose Key Democratic Senator

PODER, Posted: Jan 06, 2010

MIAMI -- Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut, often called a friend of the Latino community, has announced his retirement from the Senate, reports PODER. Dodd joins North Dakota's Byron Dorgan in stepping out of the race. Their departures emphasize the delicate hold Democrats have on their 60-vote majority in the Senate.

First elected to the Senate in 1980, Dodd has strong ties to the Hispanic community. He learned Spanish in his early 20s when he spent two years with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. His oldest brother, a professor of Latin American history, spent eight years as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Dodd is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, which covers Latin America. He has also played an important role in global drug policy. He has been critical of U.S. policy towards Cuba, and has co-sponsored legislation to allow Americans to travel freely to Cuba.

The Western Hemisphere is not a distant land with distant interests, he said in a speech last year. It is not our backyard, but instead our neighborhood, and our partnerships in it should be as deep as our interdependence and as durable as our shared values.

On immigration, Dodd has said it is important for Congress to act on the issue quickly before it could be distorted by electoral posturing. Hes called for increased penalties for 
employers of undocumented immigrants, strengthening the Southern border in partnership with the Mexican government and provisions to allow those in the United States to remain here legally.

By stepping down, Dodd prevents a possible GOP upset in the Northeast and allows former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to step in.

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