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. Jacque Bauer

    Indeed Reps are very unhappy and concerned about 2010. We all wonder whether the Dems will still have a country by then.

    If all you looked at were the politics, then the Reps are joyous – who wouldn't be if you look at the loons running things in DC these days. At the current pace, this will be a cake walk for about any Rep.

    February 12, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Scott

    I've been reading a lot of critical posts from people essentially saying that the SP is wrong. Fine, but what was so RIGHT about the one the Bush Administration came up with? I think there's people who want the Dems to fail "just because" and don't care what happens to the country. They're hurt after the election like fans on the sideline of the big game. Sore losers. You can't imagine how mad Bush made most of us at one point or another and mostly at the end in the last eight years. He didn't try at all to find common ground or appeal to anyone so why should Obama? Actually, I can be mature about it and hope that we win as a people and a country no matter who comes up with the ideas Rep or Dem. Why can't you?

    February 12, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. indy

    Maybe if the Democrats keep creating trillion dollar spending bills, they'll be the ones to worry. It's a little early to be so bold, but it's also easy right now. As far as I'm concerned neither one is better than the other. Though you'll never get that impression from the media.

    February 12, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. BeefyDaddy

    Do you know who America likes even less than congressional Dems?

    Congressional Republicans!

    February 12, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  5. Dan

    This guy is a moron. He does not know that current stimulus bill will bring them down. They want to bankrupt our country and therefore immediate change is necessary. Every bod ys is getting carried wqay with big talk from Barack who knows nothing to lead.

    February 12, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Caligirl

    Denise February 12th, 2009 7:42 pm ET

    Senate Repugs optimistic? Please run Palin. She's the epitome of everything America hates. Ignorance and hypocricy.

    Please run Palin 2012 – it will seal the deal for the dream team Obama/Biden 2012 Yeah, baby. Go intelligence.

    Right? lol 😉

    February 12, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. Perusing-through

    FRED's POSTING: "we ALL lose if any one party runs the show! . . . . only when we have TRUE checks and balances can we keep congress SOMEWHAT in check . . ."

    The nation had checks & balance the last two years of Bush's reign, and NOTHING GOT DONE!! Is this what you want Fred?

    February 12, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Typical. Now the Democratic Congress is trying the Obama "Doom and Gloom" scare tactic to get Republicans to bow to their whims. Pretty juvenile. If that's all you got, things are looking up. Contrary to what the liberal media is trying their hardest to push, the opinion expressed by this elementary school-like threat does not represent the majority in this country. The pendulum will swing. Be careful what you say and the bridges you burn.

    February 12, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. Marty, FL

    Contrary to false talking points, we are not a center right country. America is a centrist country. That's why the Republican Party is not doing so well. Too many in the GOP do not understand that many Americans want our government working together for us, not party.

    February 12, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. Caligirl

    Al February 12th, 2009 7:35 pm ET

    Republicans should be concerned? How long do Democrats think they can hold the record for lowest satisfaction ratings for any Congress in the history of this country, and continue to hold power? Americans are short on patience. Two years from now when unemployment is twice as high, Democrats will be pointing fingers everywhere trying to deflect these the fall-out from the so-called stimulus folly. If you look closely, you can already seem Pelosi, Frank, Reid and others reaching for excuses…

    You know Al, it may not be the best plan, I will give you that much. However, doing nothing was NOT an option.

    February 12, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Carolyn Green

    I'm so relieved that so many of you economic brainiacs are against the stimulus bill. I mean, what do the majority of economists know. We have moderate, liberal and conservative economists who are saying that the bill does not go far enough. But they could not possibly know what they are talking about, could they. And what is with all the balony about socialism. What do you think social security is? I hope that you are planning to tell the government no when it is your time to collect social security. There are many government programs, many of which most conservatives use, that are already socialistic in nature. Don't let the facts get in the way. And by the way, none of the stimulus money is going to create any new goverment programs. The money is going to current government entities to help those who have been hard hit by the recession. I have been fortunate to keep my job, but that does not mean that I will tell those that have lost their jobs to go to h___.

    February 12, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Schratboy

    And we should fear Bob, too. He's a blowhard politico who's sole role is get everyone on the dole. He's fleet of foot and large of mouth, he should do us all a favor and immediately head back South.

    February 12, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. janet, ohio

    They say a despot's greatest fear is his own subjects, so I guess it's Obama that should be afraid of the American people when enough of us begin to see through him.

    February 12, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  14. Paul

    The way things are being done by the democraps after 1 month they should be the ones who fear 2010.

    February 12, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  15. Feeling_Good_With_DEMs

    That GOP, what a bunch of losers. They should all be put in jail, let's start with the War Criminals from GW's admin – like Chaney!

    Next lets tax the HELL out of the folks that brought us this meltdown, like the great Bankers that have brought this country to near ruin.

    Last, lets take the guns away from the AIR HEADS in this country (especially in Alaska and the NRA), Rush L lunatics!!

    Hurrah for the DEMS

    February 12, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. Minnesotan

    I'm already looking forward to the next election, so that we can get rid of even more of these crooked Republicans who destroyed our economy and national honor.

    February 12, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. DP

    Scott. I disagree with Obama and Bush for these big government spending deals. I do not have any extra income to pay for the higher taxes it is going to cost to pay it back. We need to wrestle control of the country back from those in power and give it back to the people. All of you Obama supporters have been bought and paid for with the idea free health care and a minimal amount of welfare cash. The American dream is about choosing your profession or career and earning your money. Just because I am successful (not rich) does not mean the government has the right to tax me more so someone else does not have to work.

    February 12, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Needless to say I am not a Republican nor Democrat

    But the writing is on the wall.

    Republicans may be history.

    If you are a Republican politician here are some hints

    1. Try to become an Independent
    2. If you can (albeit difficult) try to become a Democrat
    3. See if you get a new job likely under or linked to the current government.
    4. If you can retire with enough resources, this might be a good time.

    I hate to say it but the world sees the Republicans as a “negative force/image”

    Bush – viewed by most objective people as a failure
    McCain – a picture of the past – shot down again
    Palin – keeping her eye on Russia just in case they invade Alaska
    Rush – the more he is on the air the more young Americans will flee the party
    Steele – on the wrong side of history

    I wish you guys well but I think you are really in trouble

    In the 21st century try "pragmatism" not "ideology" the latter does not work any more!

    The best to you

    February 12, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. Jimbo - st. louis

    Oh yes we are scared... we are so scared that we are working harder than ever to take back our country. It will start in 2010 and then we'll win back the White House in 2012. We won't need to work too hard to do that because with the likes of Pelosi and Obama everyone will beg for real change.

    Fool them once, shame on you... fool them twice, shame on them!!!

    February 12, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. PC

    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?
    NO, J.P. - WE should all look in the mirror and admit that WE lived beyond our means, got greedy ourselves, and NOW we expect the government to bail us out. These CEOs just reflect our PERSONAL GREED - nothing more, nothing less! WE ARE TO BLAME - NO ONE ELSE (but, obviously, that is NOT very popular - so let's just keep DREAMING ON!)

    Enter Obama, the "White Knight" - yeah, right!

    February 12, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. Scott

    I know one thing. If the GOP does not start making an effort at a little bipartisanship and compromise, I will certainly be voting against them. The President has reached out several times and certainly a hell of a lot more than the last President did and has only be rebuked for his efforts. It is time these people starting putting the country before their party.

    February 12, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Caligirl

    Rett February 12th, 2009 7:25 pm ET

    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.

    Really Rett? Because I'm a wealthy do-something American that is Democrat. I don't want something for nothing, like most hard working Democrats. I would love nothing more to help our less fortunate American citizens. You must be one of those self-absorbed Americans. How sad, there are so many. It makes Americans look cheap and phoney to the rest of the world.

    You might want to read some of the posts on CNN blogs that are put their by some of our friends from other great nations.

    February 12, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. Brian wilson

    Menendez loves illegal aliens and outsourcing American jobs. He is despised here in New Jersey. This country is doomed.......

    February 12, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. Charlie

    Republicans should be optimistic. The public is seldom satisfied with those in power. If the Republicans can reorganize with a moderate voice (not the Rush Linbaughs of the world) they will likely trounce the Democrats in the next election. History does repeat itself.

    Pelosi and Reid are the Republicans best hope. All they need to do is point at them and laugh.

    February 12, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Ralph from NJ

    @Patrick: 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.

    Careful what you wish for.

    February 12, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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