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. Angie

    KJ: The Dems are turning this into a socialist country? really? all by themselves? The Republicans had nothing to do with the direction we're headed? Government's role increased exponentially during the past 8 years. I'm not saying bigger govt is right or wrong, but responsibility for that is not solely on the Dems' shoulders. Not by a long shot.

    February 12, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Olegringo, NM

    Menendez is a typical liberal idiot!

    February 12, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. ezlnwv

    Obama says we need to rely on the private sector to rebuild the economy. This is absurd, as it was private sector greed that got us into this mess in the first place.

    Thanks to the corporate media socialism is still stigmatized in the United States. But for the sake of our children we need to repatriate America's resources. We need democratic control over our resources for true change to ever arrive.

    Or we can continue to allow the richest 1% to control over 50% of America's resources and continue to let them run us into the ground.

    February 12, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. RJ

    Both parties bring different but destructive policies. In the wake of a struggling economy, the Congress piled billions of dollars in targeted pork into a stimulus package. We don't have the money to pay for the package. We are borrowing it from other countries, but that is not stopping them from spending ridiculous amounts of money on non-essential programs. The Republicans don't have to attack Obama. If this package fails, the Democrats are sunk and so is the US economy. The Clinton administration helped us on this path. That policy laid the framework for the collapse of the housing market. Banks should not have been made to give loans to those who had little chance of paying it back. Congress failed to stop the funding for the wars. That was Congresses fault not Bush's alone. Short sighted bipartisan arguing is only making this worse.

    February 12, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Steven in Indiana

    are we using our power to create a single party system?
    this isn't what i had in mind.
    the last few days, i've been feeling a bit more conservative.
    where does that leave me?
    -feeling nervous

    February 12, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. Tom

    Hey Senator, not so fast.

    First the democratic president and his inner circle need to begin to lead instead of resorting to fear. Obama's fearful tone while continually talking about the severity of the economic situation and downplaying the potential for recovery is starting to take the bloom off the Democratic rose. This coupled with a recovery plan that Wall Street and the investment community do not believe in (and the ensuing prolonged slump it will ensure) make it about a 50/50 call that Dems will hang on to gains they have made.

    February 12, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. WereGettingHosed

    $800,000,000,000 / 3,500,000 jobs = $225,000 per job
    Those are expensive jobs that probably only pay 1/10th of that.

    February 12, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. Joe

    The Dems already control both Congress & the Presidency so they better get rock-n-rolling to fix the economy if they expect to win more seats. So far they aren't impressing me very much. They don't look like they are doing any better than the Reps did.

    February 12, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Trollmaster

    Republicans don't deserve to be back in power. They have not shown America that they learned their lessons or admited their mistakes. They'll just return to their borrow and spend, tax cuts fix everything, war mongering, "If you don't agree with me then you hate America" ways. Also the GOP will damage this nation beyond repair if they ever got back in power.

    I don't want to see a 1 party rule, but if the Republican party does not drasticaly change their ways, then voting them out of existence would be considered an act of huge patriotism.

    February 12, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Vietnam Vet71

    The Democrats are sooooooo determined to destroy this country…….but 2010 may not be as rosey for them as they think. B.O. get old after a while.

    I believe this statement shows the flawed logic we've been under for the past 8 years.

    February 12, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Hayato

    I'm so tired of Republicans. Phony outrage and childishness has not changed. I am not surprised to see even more Republicans losing their seats in 2010. American people are watching.

    February 12, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. ryan in texas

    Mike – The New Deal didn't help reduce unemployment. The creation of Social Security was not to help elderly people, but to reduce the number of people vying for the same jobs. In the history of man elderly people didn't retire! They kept working, but at a slower or less strenous pace. Their roles shifted, but they still worked. FDR fooled the people into thinking that he eased unemployment. There was mandatory retirement ages imposed. They were no longer "unemployed", but were "retired". Think about it. A retired person IS unemployed.

    February 12, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. March on Limbaughs Castle

    Lets all"the unemployed" meet for lunch at Limbaughs castle and ask him why hes against helping us.Noon on April Fools Day.A day named after him.

    February 12, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Trollmaster

    in response to Mike's comment:

    Where was the Republican party when they opposed Bush's wastful spending? They were yes men. They lost elections big time for much of what you're accusing the Democrats of.

    If you don't like Democrats, that's cool...support a 3rd party, but to say the answer is to return to Republican ways is just plain stupid based on their horrible track record.

    February 12, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Jon in CA

    One chicken, two chicken, three chicken, four.....

    February 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Sam

    Leave the Democrats alone, they will implode on their own. It's only been a few weeks and they are falling apart. Obama is so into himself and loves the sound of his voice. While he is flapping his mouth, his eyes and those bigs ear are closed.

    One day the little followers we get tired of soiling themselves at the sound of his, ya knows.

    February 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. Frank the Tank

    If the stimulus package works... bad for the GOP

    If the stimulus doesn't work... bad for the left

    Hanging on the balance... both political parties

    February 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. r.u. kidding


    "Thank you for waking up the Republicans. I see a return to the "contract with America" type of Republican party coming! As an Independent, I could support that."

    Do you mean the "Contract for America" which was drafted on a wave of "morality" by Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Henry Hyde, or Larry Craig? (You know...the ones who were cheating on their own wives while claiming higher moral ground than Bill Clinton?)

    Or were you referring to to the "integrity" of the GOP and Republicans like Bob Ney, David Safavian, Italia Federici, Mark Zachares, Steven Griles, among others, who were convicted in the Abramoff scandal? You know...Tom DeLay's buddies?

    Yeah boy...Can't wait to get back to that old Contract For America again. Business as usual.

    February 12, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. Thomas

    What a dumb, arrogant JA. You don't have to go back very many years when things were exactly the opposite of today. Everyone was saying the Democrats are finished, they have no identity, they have no message, they need to find themselves. The Rebpulicans took control of the presidency (because Clinton was far less popular than Democrats believe), the house and the senate. The truth is that many people in this country are never happy and they always blame the people in power. Typically that points to the president. Then they flip the power back to the other side. So keep shooting your mouth you arrogant fool.

    Most of your bloggers are about as arrogant and foolish as this clown.

    February 12, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Jo from Minnesota

    I also am a former Independent who voted straight ticket democrat in the last election and already plan to do it again in 2010 thanks to the way the republicans are so blatantly acting against the best interests of our country. They do not want any part of bipartisanship and only care about power for their party. They criticize and name-call with no solutions of their own. They are amazingly hypocritical with their sudden worries about spending after they spent like crazy during the last 8 years. All they care about is obstructing President Obama no matter what, even if it causes further problems for our country.

    February 12, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  21. Bob

    JodyG February 12th, 2009 6:05 pm ET
    I've always considered myself an independent and have voted for both sides at varying times.

    February 12, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. MD

    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.

    I think America has gone through a major transformation after the November elections believing once again that VOTES COUNT.

    Obama must constantly hold Congress accountable to the people and contiue with his toen hall meetings, but this time with regards to healthcare.

    No president in the history of this country has had the love and good will of the nation like Obama. He should contiue to keep the people in the loop and rely on them and lean on them to push his agenda forward.

    February 12, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Republican politicians are determined to prove correct their old adage "government is the problem, not the solution". Americans might rather have a politician who thinks that government has a place in the running of this country. The Preamble to the Constitution directs the government to take certain actions, and Republicans do not like that. Until they change their tone I will never vote for another Republican.

    February 12, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  24. Minnesota Voter

    "$800,000,000,000 / 3,500,000 jobs = $225,000 per job
    Those are expensive jobs that probably only pay 1/10th of that." --Ummm, you are forgeting that much of that money is for PROJECTS that also require materials, etc., so not all of the money is going for salaries. The INVESTMENT will be in our infrastructure and the bonus will be jobs for those who need work. You need to think before you make statements like this.

    February 12, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  25. Paying Attention Yet??

    We're getting hosed...your figures would be correct if the stimulus was only creating jobs, but it's not. It's going for tax cuts, infrastructure and other things. So, in other words, you're figures are WRONG.

    February 12, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
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