Now that a Senate ethics panel has found no wrongdoing on the part of Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in relation to his loans from Countrywide, the embattled Democrat is hoping to move on. But politically, the damage may have already been done.

There are a couple of things working in Dodd's favor here, writes Chris Cillizza. Specifically, time and the demographics of his home state...

Dodd has nearly 18 months left to make his case to the people of the state, a case that will center on this ruling that proves, according to Dodd allies, that he had never done anything wrong. Connecticut's strong Democratic lean also works in Dodd's favor as many of the voters he must win back to his side are either members of his party already or Democratic-leaning independents who are just looking for a reason to get back behind him.

Another wrinkle in what looks likely to be a Dodd-Simmons race in Connecticut is the financial emergence of Republican Peter Schiff. The libertarian-leaning candidate and former adviser to Ron Paul has raised more than $790,000 thus far, including a $200,000 "money bomb" over the weekend. 

A handful of Republican operatives are informally advising Minnesota Gov. and potential 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. The advisers include Alex Conant, formerly of the RNC, pollster Tony Fabrizio and Phil Musser who heads a Washingtopn P.R. firm. Pawlenty’s “ad hoc” group says the governor, who is also vice chair at the RGA, appears to be working toward a more formal campaign posture with a PAC likely in the works.

Over at Red State, Rob Bluey (fresh off campaigning door-to-door for GOP nominee Bob McDonnell in Virginia this weekend) argues that it’s “Barack Obama backlash" giving McDonnell a boost in the state...
How this bodes for McDonnell’s campaign in November will depend on how well he motivates these voters to pull the lever in an off-year election. One woman, who told me she was a Republican, confessed she doesn’t vote in non-presidential years, reflecting one of the challenges for McDonnell. Yesterday, however, she was in the minority. Obama seems to have angered so many people that even his supporters are having second thoughts just 200 days into his presidency.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally has a Republican opponent, but it doesn’t look like he’s capable of making Reid sweat. Danny Tarkanian, the son of longtime UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian has jumped into the race. The contest will be Tarkanian’s third foray into electoral politics—he lost a previous race for Nevada state Senate and a race for state attorney general.

Shane D'Aprile is senior editor at Politics magazine. sdaprile@politicsmagazine.com