FILLING THE VOID IN CONNECTICUT…. And just like that, Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate seat in Connecticut go from very good to very bad.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says he will seek to succeed fellow Democrat Christopher Dodd in the U.S. Senate.

Blumenthal tells The Associated Press that he will announce his candidacy at noon Wednesday at Democratic headquarters in Hartford.

Dodd’s announcement is expected at 12 noon (ET). Blumenthal will kick off his campaign around 12:01.

Now, I realize that this, to a certain extent, may seem a little rude to Dodd. He is, after all, ending a rather extraordinary career, and deserves some time in the spotlight when announcing his departure. But my sense is that Dodd doesn’t mind Blumenthal quickly jumping in — after all, Dodd is retiring specifically because he’s putting his constituents’ and the country’s interests above his own. The goal here is for Blumenthal, a popular statewide official, to immediately fill the void.

Blumenthal will be a strong favorite against a relatively weak Republican field, which includes a former wrestling executive and a former Republican congressman who lost in 2006. GOP leaders who crowed about Dodd’s retirement are no doubt disappointed to see a key opportunity suddenly appear far less likely.

As a few emailers noted this morning, Blumenthal, prior to yesterday, had made no secret of the fact that he intended to challenge Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2012, If Blumenthal runs and wins this year, what happens to the Senate race two years from now? Sources tell me that Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is the most likely competitor, and would be well positioned as a strong Lieberman opponent.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.