WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly two years before Election Day 2010, the Senate Democrat charged with expanding the party's already-strong majority sounded a bullish tone Thursday, suggesting the national mood and political environment make it nearly impossible for the GOP to pick up seats.
"The fear should be on the other side,” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters in his first briefing since assuming the post formerly held by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Menendez's unyielding optimism may seem surprising given how far out the elections remain, and the fact that the president's party historically loses seats in a midterm election, especially when that party controls both houses of Congress and the White House. The Democratic Party’s decades-long majority status in Congress ended with the first midterm of the Clinton presidency.
But Menendez noted five currently-held GOP seats are set to be vacated in 2010, most of them in traditional swing states: Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kansas. Meanwhile, no current Democratic senators have plans to retire, though the president's Cabinet appointments have technically left Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Delaware without an incumbent Democrat.
UPDATE: With New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg removing his name from consideration to be Commerce Secretary, New Hampshire may no longer be an open seat, though Gregg later said he 'probably' would not seek reelection.
Of those five states with outgoing GOP senators, Menendez said the fact that President Obama carried three of them handily and essentially tied Sen. John McCain in Missouri bodes well for Democrats in 2010. He also expressed optimism about Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' chances in that traditional red state should she decide to run there: "If Kathleen Sebelius runs, she will win," Menendez said.
The DSCC chief added a combination of local and national factors make four other Republican-held seats vulnerable - Louisiana,- North Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Incumbent Republican senators are particularly vulnerable, Menendez said, because of their "Bush like" approach the nation's sputtering economy and overwhelming opposition to the White House-backed stimulus bill.
"They just don't get it," Menendez said of his Republican colleagues, "How many more people need to lose their jobs?"
Menendez indicated the committee will support all three Democratic appointees, should they decide to run in their own right - including Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, whom only 37 percent of Illinois voters say should run for the seat in 2010, according to a recent Chicago Tribune poll.
"I presume that any of the appointees who do decide to run will have the support of the committee," Menendez said of Burris.
Excuse me...Crooks on the Republican side. You best check Madoff's voter card...Democrat. Go to youtube and see your wonderful Dems defending the coruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac forcing banks to finance mortgages to people who could not aford them. There is plenty of blame left and right. I agree you Dems should step away from the Bong. Just Google how many Dems are under investigation or had to step aside because of not paying taxes that them make me pay.
OK Menendez; I get where you're coming from but lets not get to cocky. We never know what tomorrow brings... stay in the moment and stop fanning flames.
JP shows what some Republicans really think..... They hate the Constitution
I think the Republicans should be concerned. They marched in lock step with Bush. Now they are obstructing any stimulus that every economist supports. Even if the stimulus fails the issue will be that Obama reached out to the Republicans and they did not extend theirs. The economic situation is a Republican problem beginning with no oversight by Republican Chris Cox at the SEC. Tax cuts will help business but that does not mean they will hire people. Just look at the money given to the automakers. Bush gave them the money and then they turned around and layed off a zillion more people. Those people will not forget who caused this mess, who tried to help them, and who continued to march down that same old tired path.
Md wrote: February 12th, 2009 6:22 pm ET
If the stimulus package delivers jobs without corruption on the part of the recipients, every single congressperson and senators who do not vote for the final bill should be replaced by the People.
In the same tone, If the stimulus does not work, then everyone who voted for it should be replaced by the people. Right
Lets see spending trillions of dollars of our future generations money so we can get an extra $13 per check in our pockets. Yes what a great stimulus package, you Dems are so full of crap.
J.P. February 12th, 2009 4:02 pm ET
Menendez, if your Naked Emperor signs this bill into law, it will have one of two possible outcomes.
1. You get absolutely trounced in the 2010 midterms, in a fashion that would make 1994 look mild, or:
2. Obama signs the legislation launching the next American Revolution, in which people simply refuse to contribute to the government's Taxation without Representation scheme.
If we are to bother ourselves with a second American revolution, shouldn't it be a revolt against Wall Street and it's greedy CEO's?
I would think that taking the American tax-payer;'s money and then handing out over 18 billion in bonuses is a dea.th-wish.
I believe these CEO's have more to fear from the American people than the Democrats do.
Politicians have lost their minds completely! I voted for Barack but I'm happy to vote for those that will be transparent. We need to be told the truth. If things are the same next year I will vote for the Republican, Communist, Green, Yellow, Purple, etc. party just to get it in the heads of politicians that we could care less about your party affiliation. These fools are playing with house money and think that most Americans aren't paying attention to where it's going. There is crap in the stimulus bill that I hate! It's nice to know that we still have snake oil salesman in D.C.
Don't get too bold there sir about your chances. Your party might be in for the shock of their lives. I don't believe any of the things that you politicians say. Get the job done and then we'll see about how your party does.
Independent in Colorado
I agree with you on several things, JodyG, but can we really blame EVERY single Republican for everything that George W. Bush did wrong? EVERY single Republican in the country? That's painting with an awfully big brush.
JodyG February 12th, 2009 6:05 pm ET
I've always considered myself an independent and have voted for both sides at varying times. However, the republican party is so out of touch with the people and with the current economic reality, that I voted a straight democratic ticket for the first time in my life, and I will do it again if the republicans don't do something to clean up that party. Where is their fiscal responsibility? Where are the conservative values they believe in? They have turned into the party of spend, spend, spend and hide what you're doing at all costs. They lied to the American public about the WMD's in Iraq. They outed Valerie Plame to get even with her husband. They have spent more money (they didn't have) than any administration before them. They need to do something about their policies and leaders before 2010 or they will become a footnote in history
The GOP will lose additional Senate seats because it has decided to be a party of obstruction. How can the GOP be taken seriously when a talk show host has become its new intellectual thinker?
Sniffit February 12th, 2009 6:44 pm ET
You smoking wha Michael Phelps is smoking? Seriously. daaaaaaaay trippah
Sniffit, still sniffing it at the wrong end? Of course you are! We're SO impressed with your sense of direction!
"Two years from now it will be hard to blame everything on Bush especially since Dems will have had control of the house and senate for four years."
Why would it be hard? Over 8 years later republicans still blame Clinton for everything. I have no problem blaming Bush for everything eight to ten years from now.
Ohh and over 65 years later they still blame the New Deal for everything as well... If I live to 2074 I will still be blaming Bush.
I guarantee it.
"The Death of a Party" coming soon in 2010,2012,etc.Brought to you by the party whose fiscal policys got us in this mess,now known as the "Great republican Recession", now want us to believe doing nothing is the best course.
Menedez had better not get to excited yet, the moronic do nothing lib congress will get full redress in 2 years. Harry Reid will not be elected again, count on it, Nancy Piglosi will be gone also. Also this do nothing congress will be making bad decisions like they are now, so Mr. slick Menedez can shove it! Angie in Pa can get lost herself.
With Rasmussen showing only a 1 point Democrat lead in the generic polling for congress, and this being the closest ever on record, it should b e the Democrats who are worried. What planet has this writer been on?
"I have no desire to live the way they do in Cuba/China/France/UK"
Funny China has an economy growing five times faster than ours... I wouldn't mind living there especially if I were employed and making good money.
France/UK... both beautiful countries... friendly people who aren't obsessed with wealth or having the latest car. Streets free from cars in most places....
Not a problem for me.
What I dont get is the "Joe the Plumber" republicans. They are extremely concerned about getting taxed on money they dont have and never will have..... My brother is one of these, no money, and convinced that his future grand income will be highly taxed by repubs.... It seems to me that both my bro and Joe would do better with dems? can anyone explain this phenomena?
I've seen a few posts about the "Do-Nothing Republicans" which is ironic because Democratics are helping the "do-nothing American people" by giving them the money that the "do-something American people" earn. If everyone would just go to school, get a job, and make some money then everyone could payoff their mortages and the crisis never would have happened. These unpaid mortages are the subprime mortages that were encouraged 10 years ago by the Clinton administration. It was only a matter of time before the economy blew-up from Clinton's actions and just happen to occur during the Bush administration. If Kerry had won in '04 we'd still have the same economic crisis on our hands.
It is fun to sit back and watch you democrats trying to throw stones with one hand a sweep up your own dirt under a rug. without the media running cover fire your party would have been outed 20 years ago. You all seem to forget 1994
What an idiot.
If the stimulard bill is effective (economists don't agree whether it will or not) the dems will stay strong. If not, absolutely no way the dems will gain seats in fact, they will lose and big! Most people are trying to get through today much less be concerned about 2 years from now! Don't get too cocky dems, you are only 3 .5 weeks in!
Pepper Hanrahan February 12th, 2009 7:16 pm ET
The economic situation is a Republican problem beginning with no oversight by Republican Chris Cox at the SEC . . .
Care to be SPECIFIC, "Pepper Hanrahan"? Care to explain Blarney Frank's BAD subprime mortgage loans to people with NO ability to pay back? I'm waiting, Pepper! You part of ACORN, per chance?
2006 quote from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "If you think redistricting is always partisan and political which it is...it's going to be on steroids this time."
Now, everyone saying how bad the repubs were, didn't you vote on Obama to change this whole culture??? Sounds like, when your party isn't in power they're angry, when it is...all is well and the other party should sit back...essentuially we are in a civil war (political), just without the bullets...for now :-(
Elections come down to what have you done for me lately. If the economy continues to tank in spite of the SP than those pocket-book-voters who voted Dem will be back to voting Rep. Elections also have as much to do with the cult of personality and it will be interesting to see who can bring the most charismatic candidates forward in 2010. As an aside I think tax cuts and the SP will hurt rather than help the country but neither presidential candidate offered something different. Anything to get elected; how about no taxes at all?
Headline: Senate Republicans optimistic about 2012