February 12th, 2009
06:11 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate Democrats optimistic about 2010, targeting nine states

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/12/art.menendez.gi.jpg caption=" Menendez is chairman of the DSCC."]

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.

Filed under: Bob Menendez • Senate
soundoff (563 Responses)
  1. Capt Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Now comes the real Rethuglican test:

    Let’s challenge every Rethuglican that voted against the stimulus package. That they should not accept any of the stimulus money for there state or district.

    Let’s see how many of them can walk the walk; we know they can talk the talk. Lets see them put the money were there mouth is.

    Let’s start with Mr. Depends himself John McCain and Arizona!

    They really need to refuse any of this money because it is all pork! If they are so worried about the budget and borrowing money. Let them refuse are return any money to the U.S. Treasury at once!

    February 12, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Angie in Pa

    Go Dems get the Do nothing Republicans out!

    February 12, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Chris from NY

    Oh hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go get them. I will contribute and campaign for any Democrat in my district for a win. Take out all those obstructionists.

    February 12, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. G.O.P.: When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose

    Keep attacking Collins, Snowe and Spector and Obama won't have to wait until 2010 to get a filiubuster-proof majority.

    February 12, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. People who receive Social Security will get a one-time payment of $250.

    Maybe one of the reasons that retired people are going to get a measly one time check of $250 is because Nancy Pelosi set aside $30 million dollars to cater to large contributors who want to save the salt water marsh white mouse in her district. I am amazed that AARP and other Dems are not barking at Pelosi and Reid as they cut the tax rebates and tax cuts in favor of Pork ear mark spending. I don't get it.

    Mr President, on behalf of all the retired people who voted you into office, is $250 the full extent of change we can expect? If so, then you were correct Sir in calling it " change " - for it is pocket change.

    February 12, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. yuri

    Beware Dems! Over confidence will get you nowhere. Try to be cautiously optimistic and that's the politically savvy thing to do.

    February 12, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. James

    Yep, i been saying they just dont get it for some time now, all i know is the way its looking, give the N and NE the stimulus, if the southern states with Republican leadership dont want it, dont give it to them, let them rot in the decaying state they left our country in. From the comments ive seen from people, attacking Obama for everything under the sun, mcbeth, religion, race, actually trying to fix problems created by meatheads, i dont think they really want to see us succeed, is that dumb or what......Fox news and Mtv really do control peoples every thought, p diddy says vote or die, we vote, and we die, fox news says no birth certificate, muslim, terrorist, are we serious??? wake up America before you lay in the bed you made. If you cant see the problem here maybe you should go back to school or pick up a book, whatever the case, shut your mouth if your not offering "constructive" criticism. Yep, they really dont get it. They never will either. (apathy).

    February 12, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. TCM

    @ G.O.P.: When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose –

    Nothing to lose but your freedoms that many fought and died for, for this country....moron...wait until the government is making socialistic decisions for you at every turn....unless, you're the type that can't wipe his nose, and needs uncle sugar to make it all better.....maybe Obama will give you a kiss like he did the "planted," Henrietta Hughes.....

    February 12, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Laura, Boston

    I don't plan on helping Barney Frank get re-elected! Maybe gains will be made in the Senate but the house with Nancy Pelosi as leader may not have as strong a foundation to weather the economic hurricane we are experiencing.

    February 12, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Rocco Pompa

    The Republicans just don't get it! I think there are a number of Southern States the Democrats need to focus on, begining with South Carolina, and Alabama. the Senators from these states would support slavary except it is illegal. I sincerely hope the democats can make in-roads in the South! And that from a life long Republican!!!

    February 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Rick

    Any chance the dems had to gain ground in congress has been shot down by Nancy Pelosi. The pork-spending bill will take the dems down in flames. I would blame Obama but I've become convinced that Obama has no idea what's in the bill. He is strickly a puppet for the Pelosi/Reid lunatics. They just tell him where to be and when to be there and he shows up and spits out what he has been programmed to say.

    February 12, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. cbk16

    Any more Democrats elected to congress would just make us a copy of the old Soviet Union. I think after a few months of our socialist experiement, the country will be looking for Capitalism to rescue it.

    February 12, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Deb

    Go GET THEM DEMS,,,Just let Collin, Snowe and Spector stay

    February 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Unstimulated

    Obstruction of injustice is a noble act.

    February 12, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Bill

    Ok, seriously, can anyone really predict which party will have an advantage two years from now? I can't believe this is even being spoken about! Anything can happen from now to the next election. If Obama can maintain his image, I imagine the Dems can continue to ride his coattails. If the economy tanks into a depression, well who cares at that point. If the GOP continues on its path of simply opposing everything the Dems do simply because the Dems thought of it, the GOP will lose big time. Bottom line, too many factors and too far out to make any reliable prediction.

    February 12, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. J.P.

    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.

    February 12, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. judesuper

    Don't forget Arizona. McCain needs to loose his seat and start his retirement. Let's go get Gabriel Giffords to run agains the tired old guy. She would win. Arizona would finally join the rest of the country, looking forward not back.

    February 12, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Jon

    Apparently he is not following the polls. Chris Dodd (D-CT) is very vulnerable thanks to his own personal mortgage scandal according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll. A recent Rasmussen “Generic Congressional Ballot" poll has the parties neck and neck. Moreover, Harry Reid has been polling very poorly over the last two or so years.

    February 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Yes, we should remain optimistic that the people will further side-line these GOP jokers. They certainly have not got the extent to which the ship is taking on water. Their posturing is not about the people's interest, but about how they can look for future elections. They did poorly and still are trying to look good. They have spun so long that they do not realize that their game is up.

    February 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Gaston, a Frenchman in the Midwest

    Go Democrats!!!!! lets remove these Bush wanna- be Republi-cons, it is time for us to concentrate on solving the nation's problems, help President Obama & increase our #s in the US Senate.

    February 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Romney2012

    What's a hoot is all you dems blabbing about getting the republicans out? Well, you've yet to see the socialistic carnage that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are going to cause with the porkulus bill....those of you that do work, will find yourself paying even more for "free" health care, waiting longer for medical attention, paying more for illegal care, ACORN support....all the little goodies that contribute to the detriment of this country....so, if dems get the majority, they'll be able to screw us even faster! Way to go idiots! It's like heading toward a head-on collision, and yelling for the driver to go faster!

    February 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Mike in VA

    Don't bet on it. I'm taking my $13 a week stimulus and making sure you all get canned!

    February 12, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. EBC, MD

    Let the voices of the people send a FINAL message to the deaf toned GOP once and for all!

    I'm sick of hearing John Boehner, Lindsey Graham, Eric Cantor, and the rest of the Republican cry babies yell more "tax breaks" and yet they consistently DO NOTHING while millions of families continue to lose their jobs and homes. So much for the last eight years of tax breaks for the WEALTHY!!!

    I think these REPUGS should go without a PAYCHECK for a change and see how it feels!!!


    February 12, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. 2010

    I don't blame the Dems for being optimistic. After years of misguided GOP policies, it will be a long time before I ever vote Republican again in FL.

    February 12, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Kevin

    Looks like the Republicans are getting closer to that window seat on the tourbus to see the Nation's Capitol AND being lined up with their mastodon ancestor.

    February 12, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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