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. Trollmaster

    I hear all these bad comments on the stimilus bill, but I have yet to hear one alternative from it's Republican type critics, besides more tax cuts, (which is in the stimilus package already) do nothing, or deny there's a problem.

    If you're going to attack the stimilus package (which is not perfect) provide a solid answer or show everyone your crediblity is worthless.

    February 12, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Jessica Grimes

    to "Caroline" re: social security and socialism....

    Um ... people collect social security because they PAID into the system during their WORKING years.... its is a earned benefit.

    February 12, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. winkie

    Don't worry dems, the party of evil will be more concerned with stealing as much as they can to enrich themselves that they will not be in actually doing anything constructive for the American people. They think we are all so stupid that we cannot see something so obvious. They seem to get their orders from Rush who is nothing but another right wing wacko.
    By 2010 they maybe nothing but another wacko fringe party. How sad for the grand old party... and I mean really old.

    February 12, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  4. Ray

    Ah Humm,
    After they managed to run off Richard Nixon they thought the Republician Party was dead. After 4 years of Jimmy Carter there was 12 years of Reagan and Bush.

    I wouldn't count my Chickens before they hatch.

    February 12, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. mjm

    @Carolyn Green

    Social security .... How’s that working out? I hear its going broke.

    With socialism, the government has the power. We've already seen that with the bank bailout. We have a government basically dictating what they can and can not do. It is also happening in the auto industry. Where does it stop?

    With Capitalism, the power is with the people. That's what makes America great. That's what makes American unique.

    There are plenty of socialist countries out there. We can't be one of them. We need to be who we are, and that's small government and low taxes.

    That's America.

    February 12, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. EW

    I absolutely love how you Repugs on here seem to think that you will pick up seats if things havent turned around in 2 years. Are you kidding me? PALEAZE......it took 8 years of pathetic Repug "leadership" to get in this complete mess. You actually think people will forget that in 2 years? No wonder the country is in such a sad state. You right wingers are straight-up delusional........

    February 12, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. JonPeter Hartford, CT

    The republican party neeeds to beciome more moderate to attract more of the centrist, moderate vote to balance the democrats. As long as the voive of the republican party is Rush "I hope Obama fails" Limbaugh, the republicans will continue to drive away voters and become less relevant. As the party threatens those who work with the democrats in a bip0artsian fashion their divisive politics becomes obvious.

    The way to break the polarization is for oeither party to move to the center, not become more entrenched in extreme politics. The republicans have an opportunity to marginalize the far right and christian conservative factions and find new inclusive leadership.

    This has to happen for the good of the country. To continue the current course is a fail for the republicans and apotential fail for the country.

    February 12, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. Charlie

    This is insane. Aren't we all Americans? George Washington is probably rolling in his grave right now to see how this two-party system has divided and destroyed the priorities of this country. Democrats are already boasting how they're going gain more in 2010. Can't they put their efforts into things that actually help the country? Predicting big gains for themselves 2 years from now helps no one but their inflated egos.

    February 12, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  9. TheMason

    Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.

    Seriously folks, where is the change? Obama campaigned that McCain would be Bush III, but it seems he has picked up the mantle. We have increased spending and tax cuts, all the while we are paying for this by selling bonds (debt) to China. Most of our currency is held in reserve by other countries, and since November we've turned on the presses.

    While Obama's approval ratings appear high...the stimulus ratings are in the tank. If this does not work then 2010 could be a very bleak year for the Democrats. On the other hand if it does work the Republicans are going to get a third straight "thumping". In short: it is far to early for Sen. Menendez to be bullish about anything.

    February 12, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  10. Matt

    Ridiculous speculation. No one can accurately predict tomorrow's weather?! I liked what was said after the first two weeks of the new presidency: "The past two weeks have been the worst two weeks of Obama's presidency, so far." You ain't seen nothing yet! Who would have thought the Messiah's honeymoon would have been over so fast. Guess Georgie Boy is looking might good right now!

    February 12, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. John

    The arrogance and stupidity of the democratic party is becoming acute. I hope they stay true to their nature and if they do the Republicans will be back!

    February 12, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. John

    The democrats should feel good about their prospects since the republicans only want to be the obstruction party

    February 12, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. Dave- Houston, TX

    Appears to be the death of the Republican Party at last...which is a good thing, considering they seem to have very outdated and outlandish ideas of the economy.

    February 12, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  14. Dianne

    After the last 8 years of disaster, which we will still be trying to get out of, the GOP should be scared. I would hope the people will not forget. It was bad enough we voted them into the White House once but scary when we did it twice. Or did we?

    February 12, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. stag

    A few more months of BHO, the greatest liar in modern times, and the Dems will be be in really bad shape come 2010. Remember dems, BHO got elected because of the hatred of W, not because of BHO's socialist agenda.

    February 12, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. Mitchell from MS

    @ How ironic I'm a white man

    Learn your history sir, Republicans freed the slaves. What a nation of uneducated twits we have become.

    February 12, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Ahmedinejad the true leader of the DNC

    If Republicans quit paying taxes the government will not have any revenue because its apparent judging by obama's cabinet picks that democrats don't pay taxes.

    February 12, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. michelle

    the more the republicans come out and put President Obamas
    policies down the more they mire themselves in the muck ....its almost enough to make you laugh
    its like they are in quicksand and more they come out with their rants
    and behaviours the more they sink!!!
    Hellooooooo why dont you sit back shut up and try getting along with the president
    Now wouldnt that be refreshing!!!!

    February 12, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. David in KC

    The GOP had the government steering wheel for 8 years. Their conservative trickle down policies failed. The Right in this country drove themselves into the ditch and have no one to blame but their own ideology.
    The Republicans will be even more irrelevant in '10.

    February 12, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Mitchell from MS

    To all the Dems, BRING IT ON!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. Agatha X

    The only thing that can save the Republicans is idiot Democrats saying things like "the Republicans should fear 2010."

    February 12, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |

    Based on the first month in control of all three branches of government, I would not be so confident if I were a Democrat. They are making a mess of this country.

    Obama is sailing the ship of state, the USS Titantic, directly into an iceberg, and it will sink.

    While our ship of state sinks, Nancy Pelosi is busily buying deck chairs, while Harry Reid is yelling at the iceberg, and the President is shooting off flares and rockets looking for somebody to help.

    The debt load we are taking on will hurt future generations for decades as our currency is diminished against all other currencies of the world, making our country's exports worth far less, while making all imports (including oil and cars) far more expensive for all of us. With Social Secruity estimated to go negative in 2017, our country is facing bankruptcy.

    A lot of folks voted for change, but they did not count on having it mean change in their pocketbooks, home values, and retirement accounts.

    February 12, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. Bipartisan

    As an Independent, I voted with the Dems this time around because I was tired of the same old same old I saw in the Republican party. But, the last couple of months have shown me that the Democrats aren't any better. And what's worse, they seem to think they have some kind of mandate and that you must follow their doctrine or get out.

    Remember, either party needs the independent swing vote to win elections. Alienating us with your hatred won't help too much.

    February 12, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. Jean

    May GOD this admin has been a joke from day one.

    Republicans will pick up 40 seats in the house.

    February 12, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  25. Carl Justus

    The republicans will have to change the way they work for the American people and how they vote if they expect to pick up any seats.
    I firmly believe they will become a minority party with people like Newt Gringrich, Rush Limbaugh, O'reilly, Hannity, North, Coulter, E. Gordon Liddy, and others speaking for the republican party.
    The majority of the people have heard enough from all of that bunch and those in congress do all the listening to them and try to act like they talk.

    February 12, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
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