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.
The GOP will pick up 20 House seats if they do NOTHING right. Historical normality.
And the 'change' has already worn pretty thin. We didn't elect a Presient, we elected a rock star who doesn't know his behind from a hole in the ground and seemingly can't even get his Cabinet filled.
I'm guessing Menendez plans to run the 'GW Bush is to blame for cavities' campaign again, right?
Nobody will listen.
Why are Republicans complaining about spending now when did absolutely NOTHING to stop Bush from increasing the national debt to 11 trillion dollars??
The Republicans Hate America. Let's move them out to a rightwing dictatorship if they are so unhappy. Colombia and Israel would be thrilled to see them.
GOP will reign in 2010, the american people will react to the democrats BIG GOVERNMENT mentality
Don't worry, the Republicans will get a bailout too!!
The Republicans are digging their own Grave, so go ahead and be a thorn in Obama's side,and putting your own interest ahead of the Majority of the american people,by 2010 atleast nine more Sentoral seat's will belong to the Democrat's. So in closing Rush,Hannity,and the rest of the meathead's in both house's keep up the good work.
Ready or not...here we come!
You're kidding me, aren't you? By the end of this summer the economy will be in such a state of collapse and it will be so obvious that Obama, Pelosi, Frank, and Reid have no idea what they are doing that you'll then be talking about the Democratic Party being in dire straits.
Ron Paul – 2012
Great! One step closer to Socialism and the end of America. I see all sorts of comments saying that the Republicans hate America. But the Democrats are the ones telling people they cannot make it on their own and need the support of the government to survive. I find that degrading; so let's vote for more of that in 2010. Also, doing nothing is better than doing something bad. But welcome to the new Russia (the American Union); where the public fears criminals (because they have more rights than normal people) and the super elite politicians rule with an iron fist.
It's funny how things truly started going south after the dems took control of the congress. It's also amazing how we have so many failed examples of increased government spending to boost an economy. In the end, it pushes out the private money – leading more and more to a country totally dependent upon the government. But then again, isn't that what Queen Nancy and Prince Harry want?
The repugs had better be worried about 2010.
Yes, that's right. Obama has been in office for a whole 3 weeks and he STILL hasn't fixed the economy. Wow, I'm shocked. Seems to me that he already said that the problems run so deep that they might not even be fixed in one four-year term. No one with any sense will hold the economy against him if it isn't fixed by 2010 -no matter what the neocons say.
Furthermore, the only reason congress had such a low approval rating when the Dems took over is 1.) The repugs will give a poor rating to a Dem, no matter what. 2.) Most Dems were disappointed that Pelosi took impeachment of Bush off the table.
Funny how neocons try to spin things to their favor. But it won't work in 2010.
Mitchell from MS,
"Republicans freed the slaves?"
Listen, my dear: Our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and he was a Republican. He was a man of deep convictions and principles. He defied his party and the norm, and paid the ultimate price. He was murdered by Booth, who did not want equality for slaves. He, and most in that day, did not agree with President Lincoln's beliefs concerning slavery. So, it's more accurate to say that President Lincoln, "the man," freed the slaves. Not President Lincoln, the Republican. Got it?
The Republican party is a dying beast with a large mouth named Rush. They own the media and use it despite the fact they are essentially un-American. We're all board with their talking points which degrade real thoughtful and caring dialogue, and then lead us to nowhere. All of their candidates (the worst I've seen in my lifetime), pundits and presiding members in the last election acted as if they were ravaged and cornered animals whose only alternative was to attack the oposition with diversions and trivial personality jibes. No ideas, no positive message, no truth, no direction, absolutely nothing that could be considered pertinent to real Americans. Their only alternative is to go back to Ripon Wisconsin and start over.