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. sandy

    You know, I think the Republicans would rather do anything than support a Democrat, A Black President. Theirs is truly the sign of politics as usual. The problem is, that they present the same arguments, the same cut taxes propositions, and state that that is the Republican Way. And it’s the wrong way. For those looking for the Change, The New Politics, you just saw it, let each side write down what they want, and then put them in a room and let them fight it out until both sides are somewhat happy. When is the last time you can remember, each side writing down what they wanted, and then getting in a room and forced to iron out their differences with a deadline. I don’t remember it in my 60 yr. history, it usually goes on for months and months at a time. So, if they can’t do it their old way, then they fall back on This is the Republican Way, and it Goes Against my principles, that’s what got us into this mess—THEIR PRINCIPLES—THAT ARE PRO RICH AND CON POOR
    SANDY IN Los Angeles

    February 12, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. Anonymous1

    Socialism is good, better than capitalism. Have a nice day.

    February 12, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Jarhead

    After the divisive, high handed and totally partisan way the Democrats have rammed the "stimulus bill" down this nations throats–going against the advice of their own "experts" and the CBO, etc–methinks it had best be the split tongued Democrats who had best be nervous about 2010.

    February 12, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. AC

    This man is an embarrasment to my state.

    February 12, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. grrrreg in jax

    Mike February 12th, 2009 5:37 pm ET

    I'm thinking of quiting my job and going on welfare. Now that the Dems are in control I'll have free food, health care, and free money every month. Might not be a rich mans bounty but at the rate this party is going we'll all be on welfare someday anyway.
    It's kind of easy to spend money with wreckless abandon when A) it's not yours B) you are not responsible for paying it back and C) You will more than likely blame the whole mess on the Republicans if it doesn't work.
    Good for you Democrats. Keep tooting your own horn. It might just be your undoing.


    just look at it this way Mike, #43 started us down this awful spiral and the extremely low approval ratings at the end of his reign of terror, down in the 20s, right... means that an overwhelming majority, including a large chunk of republicans, think that #43 has caused this nightmare, and because of its horrendous state, most people with common sense already know, it would be nothing short of a miracle if #44 could clean up and reverse the speeding train to hell caused by #43 , in just 4 years , and most certainly not following the tax codes of #43 while we are still in these wars..plus the wealthy will continue sending their money and american jobs to other countries, such as china, india and or to their offshore bank accounts... life is never going to be the same... come back to reality and realize the situation is dire and the solution to solve so many problems can only come from a progressive mind... not old habits that are obviously bad for us

    i have complete faith in president obama, aka #44, i wont even say the name of the one before him#43 he should be on trial against crimes against humanity, creating a war for profit , with the cost of your fellow countrymens lives...soliers, children who believed every lie out of his mouth...sadly some even still to this day.

    February 12, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Lori

    I agree that the Democrats will get stronger for the following reasons:

    1) People understand that President Obama is in a situation not seen in decades that the Republicans left for him and that he is trying to do something (anything) to TRY and get the economy back on track. It's better than doing nothing
    2) That the Republicans have no other answer to the stimulus- just tax cuts that did not work for the past 8 years. When re-election time comes up, we will realize that just because you opposed the bill (whether it is extremely successful or just stopped some of the bleeding) does not mean that their answers (the Republicans) would have been better. The America people are not that stupid.

    February 12, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    So sad. There are important matters like the economy and national security and our representatives and leaders are worried about being re-elected and who should oversee the census office. Where is the bill.? Are they still working on the final draft?

    February 12, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Bob

    HA! And everyone thought Bush was bad?! This Obama guy is an ABSOLUTE JOKE! - And he hasn't been in office a month! What happened to hope Big B? Are you just too scared your little (or should I say, big) porkulus package isn't going to work? I thought you were a good speaker - INSPIRE US – with that big bunch of well-articulated hot air of yours! Jan. 20, 2009 – The beginning of an era (or is it error?)

    February 12, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Mike

    Ha! Only 23 days in and look what the democrats have before us, has this "Stimulus" hit the one trillion dollar mark yet? I have never seen something so absolutely wrong. Look at what they are spending our money on people, look at what it is going to our debt level, a problem you all are leaving my generation to pick up, 800 million for hybrid cars for federal employees?!

    It is the democrats who should fear 2012

    The greatest generation would be ashamed, they weathered the storm, and emerged better than before, here we are with a tiny slice of what they experienced, and people are running for the hills. A bunch of drama queens, time to grow up and deal with it America, No one is going to save you but yourself.

    February 12, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. Andy in San Francisco

    It's amazing how much hate the Liberals on here still have. Especially since they are now in control and spending our country into fiscal collapse. The one consoldation conservatives always have is that we always have more money, better families, better lives. The Left in America is destroying us with their horrible values. Americans can tolerate them very long and will soon kick them out of office as they did the Carter Revolution (joke).

    February 12, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. gl, Pittsburgh

    Patriot Gu – Stop drinking the GOP koolaid. GOP have taking this country down for 8 years.

    February 12, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. Larry


    How to take a recession into a depression in under a month

    February 12, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Ann

    November, 2010 is a long way off. Let us not count our chickens. I pray for the total elimination of the Republican part but let's not get cocky.

    February 12, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. The people of America

    If the Democratic party actually governs by the principle of representing the interests of the American people and not those of country less multinationals the Republican party will disappear. The only rememberance of the Republican party will be found in the archives of expensive country clubs.

    February 12, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    @ janet, ohio

    You seem to be forgetting that we ousted the despots back in November. THAT as the undeniable will of the people. Instead of putting all your eggs in the 2010 and 2012 baskets, you GOPers might want to consider listening to that message.

    February 12, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. Death of America by Obama

    carolyn green...........................omg, you are sick with gross stupidity.You've got to be very young. You are just plain dirt stupid.

    February 12, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. rich

    Its true congress has low approval ratings of all time.And within that statistic the republicans approval is lower than the democrats.Ouch,what dose that say.

    February 12, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. Scott, Tucson

    Who are you going to blame two years from now when you're still unemployed and no relieve in sight? Bush and Cheney? That excuse won't fly anymore.

    February 12, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. Andy

    Send them all to Guantanamo!

    February 12, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. Marianne

    Puppet Obama and the Dems better be careful. When all the people who don't get their mortgages paid and let off the hook for their debt and they don't get those jobs they were promised they are not going to be very forgiving. Lets face it the only people who will get the jobs are the skilled, union people. All these people on welfare and making min wage who brought into the crap that came out of Obamas mouth still will be unemployed.

    February 12, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. independent

    Please do something about the two GOP hacks in Georgia

    February 12, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. Slider

    Well, it's always been about the campaign, right Menendez?

    Sell everyone down the river as long as the Democrat Party wins, right? That's all that's important, yes?

    Well, son, campaign on this...

    The CEO of Caterpillar just contradicted your liar of a President stating that this fatuous bill you call a "stimulus" plan will keep Caterpillar from laying off when in fact, the CEO said that won't happen.

    Obama is a liar. Menendez, you are a liar. The Democrat Party are all liars.

    The question is: how many folks will continue to get played?

    February 12, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  23. Allen in Hartwell GA

    All you people who hate Pelosi and Reid probably do not remember any of the speakers or senate majority leaders from 1994 through 2006. The Republicans took charge of the House in 1994 and of the Senate in 1996. Remember the "Contract With America" which turned out to be the contract on Americans? Before you blame Pelosi and Reid for the problems we are facing today you really should study the subject.

    Sure people are not happy with Congress – they did nothing for us for 10 years – and let the last presidential administration run the country into bankruptcy. Pelosi and Reid have a lot of work to do to repair what the Republican Congress and President managed to mess up.

    February 12, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. BRUTIS

    The Republican Party , including every single member of the Bush, and Chaney CRIME FAMILIES... should be put into PROTECTIVE CUSTODY and all of them, shipped to Cuba, given orange jump suits and a spoon..

    For SPECIAL TRAINING.. Which may take up to 20 years to complete.

    February 12, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. jerry

    boy the democrats are sure full their selfs, its more like they will be losing their seats

    February 12, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
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