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Dodd could be the fourth senator to join the Democratic race

For such a small state, Connecticut seems to nurture big political ambitions. Advisers to Christopher Dodd tell TIME that the state's senior Senator is seriously weighing the idea of joining the 2004 Democratic-primary field—which already includes a Connecticut Senator, Joseph Lieberman. Aides expect Dodd to announce his decision within the next few weeks.

Now in his third decade in the Senate, Dodd, 58, is good on television, has deep experience on both domestic and international issues, and brings a well-developed political network from his days as Democratic Party chairman. With the Senate looking as though it could stay in Republican hands for the near future, those close to Dodd say he is restless there. But he's wrestling with the toll that a presidential bid could take on both his Senate career and his role as father of an 18-month-old daughter.

Advisers say Dodd is also concerned that he may be too late to join a field that is already crowded with fellow U.S. Senators. The list includes not only Lieberman but also John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina. Florida's Bob Graham is moving ahead with plans to run, despite his recent heart surgery, and will decide by March 1. Nor has Delaware's Joseph Biden ruled out a presidential bid. All of which means that Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who earlier backed off an expected run, could find it pretty lonely in the Senate cloakroom next January.