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.
Go get em! A filibuster proof majority is the only thing that is going to shut the GOP up. Funny, Rush told the GOP to ignore the Dem and do what they wanted and when the Democrats won, they could do what they wanted. Since Rush is their God, why aren't they taking THAT advice?
I just hope before Dems get voted out they don't do any irreparable harm. Unfortunately their damage will also touch the 46% of the electorate that didn't vote their way.
And regardless of how inept he was, "but what about what Bush did"? is not a good argument in support of Dems that are clearly on a collision path.
LET;S SEE HOW "THINGS ARE" .........WHEN 2010 GETS HERE, FIRST!
Every time I see the word "porkulus" in these posts I always hear it in Rush Limbaugh's voice as he tries to get it out from between his corpulent smushed-in cheeks and bloated tongue. I chuckle at the idea of seeing a bloated 500 pound impotent fool trying to protect his paycheck with his dear life as more and more of his former listeners "de-program" themselves from his lies. Then the words "myocardial infarction" float through my head and I laugh even harder. Then I picture how y'all must sound saying 'porkulus' and it looks about the same.
democrats are like going to a bar and your buddy, he says drinks are on me ..... then leaves you with the tab....2 years is a very long time
I find it funny all these Dem supporters dont want any debate. Do you really think that the country would be better if there was no opposition. Why not just rip up the Bill of Rights, because it would still then just be a handful of people making all the decisions. I might as well move back to England where my family left many generations ago to get away from such a society.
Maybe instead of worrying about their elections in 2010 they should be more concerned about today's financial mess. People are losing their jobs, their homes and their happiness to life and these useless punks are only concerned about getting re-elected and being a majority in the Congress. What a disgrace! I feel every current member of Congress should be impeached immediately!
WOW, a chicken in every pot ! Hurry up i'm hungry, my rents due and I need gas for my car.
I'm optimistic for the democrats as well.
We need to get all the republicans out of office – they have and are destroying our country.
I hope the democrats take more seats, but I'm starting to get scared about our party in general. I like what Obama is doing, but it doesn't look like the house and senate are letting him do his job or keep his promises. I think we need to worry about putting the right people in the offices, not just a democrat. Otherwise we are no better than what we just got rid of. We need to get rid of the Pelosi type people if we want to keep power.
If the Democratic Party doesn't get rid of Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker, she could single-handedly blunt any advantage the Democrats currently may have in 2010. We can only have one president at a time...and Nancy Pelosi is not the president.
We will see what happens. If Barack can not fix the country by then all bets will be off. Democrats would then likely lose seats in the house and senate alike.
At least try to find some people to run who pay their taxes... it's a tough job I know... but there might be one or two Dems out there who aren't crooks... but I doubt it.
I understand 2010 is important, but can we wait till December 2009 or January 2010?
Time will likely show that our present "leadership" has traded a bad position for a worse one and if true, that will be the 900 lb gorilla in the mid-term elections. Candidates seeking office only have to be better than the incumbent and time will tell how high that bar is set. Neither party has shown much lately...
Porkulus, Porkulus, Porkulus, I hear in Charlie Schumers voice, not Rush Limbaugh. Charlies sneered and said nobody cares about the pork. There was a camera on him, the fool just can't help himself.
Not to worry, you won't have to do much. The Republicans are doing to do what they do BEST, and that is SELF-DESTRUCT right in front of the American people!!
Make no mistake, just sit back and watch the divisive, the obstruction, the denials, the excuses, the repeated calls for "tax breaks for the wealthy" over and over and over.
Republicans want YOU to wait for their plan of the "trickle down" theory to kick in.
Hey are you feeling the trickle of wealth yet? I mean, it's only been 8 years.....
Not to worry, you won't have to do much. The Republicans are going to do what they do BEST, and that is SELF-DESTRUCT right in front of the American people!!
I thought they were vacant already as they have been doing nothing but turning up to vote No, No No No No...
Republicans were so afraid of George W. Bush just like the Iraqis were afraid of Saddan. Now that Obama has toppled the Bush area Republicans are acting like freed Iraqis who have no respect for their liberater. Think about it.
gt @ 419: Rushpublicans are like going to a bar and your drunk buddy takes your car, smashes it and asks you for the keys to your house.
We will we will rock you!!!
We will we will rock you!!!
How do spell relief.............D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T
it is possible for them to do it. they can just steal the election. pretty simple.
So when Democrats were obstructionists you all claimed that "dissent is patriotic" but when a Republican does it they're evil?
Forget the GOP!