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. Liz

    Liberal baby boomers want to destroy the democratic foundation of this country and turn it into Cuba. My grandfathers' WWII generation is rolling over in their graves. They fought for our freedom while all the draft dodging, hippie boomers have done is look out for themselves. The last 50 years have devastated this country with the boomers in charge. Vote them all out.

    February 12, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  2. Texas Teacher

    Look... the sooner we can get rid of these moss back republicans, the sooner we can get something done for the rest of us! These stupid repubs are looking to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to get them out of their mess. It does just show how out of touch they are!!! The rest of us are looking at them with wonder and dismay. AND they JUST do NOT get IT! They are the past... all they are doing is holding the country back with antiquated policies that got us into this mess.... pitiful!

    February 12, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. Sarge

    RE: Janet in Ohio

    I know that people can see through PRESIDENT OBAMA because he has nothing to hide like the scum bag Republicans do. I hope they get their butts whooped in 2010 because we the Democrats have a fighting chance every time there comes a vote in both chambers and they want to do nothing to with HELPING the American people. That's all the Republicans want is tax cuts for the wealthy once again and another term of Bush/Cheney lies.

    February 12, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. Ajax

    Lots of angry people in here.

    So much for a new tone and change. Same angry folks...

    February 12, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. Anonymous


    February 12, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. Albo58

    Pelosi, Reid, tax cheats, closing Gitmo without a plan, an incredible mistake bill that will cost almost $1T, and this is only after less than a month in office. Yeah, it's obvious that the Republicans are really terrified of the 2010 election!#!

    February 12, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. Texas Teacher

    Janet in Ohio, you just DO NOT get it.... Republican Gal.... you are the past! GET over IT.... you lost.... the rest of us are glad you lost! That is why Obama is getting cheering crowds in Republican States! Come on... get real... you are the ones who are going to wake up one day and find you are all alone... in the middle of no where with NO ONE giving a HOOT what you want or think!

    February 12, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. Craig in St. Louis

    Anyone, anyone is better than GW Bush. This country will be suffering from his inept, incompetent policies for years to come.

    February 12, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. ib

    Social Security is not socialism. I have paid enough into it to know. I will never live long enough to get back out what I have paid into it. I'm in my early 60's and still working full time. It is a tax more than a benefit as far as I am concerned. Obama (my opinion) wants socialism just look at his past record. Look at who his friends were and take a real good look at his past voting record.

    February 12, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  10. windrider

    As long as the GOP persists in playing solely to its shrinking base of mostly white southern conservatives, the party will continue to lose elections outside its regional strongholds. The limitation of these conservatives is that they are always looking backward for solutions to tomorrow's global problems, one of which is our economy. If they could, these Republicans would clone Ronald Reagan and then would be clueless as to why ideas of 30 years ago don't work today or tomorrow. And until they make the party open to moderate Republicans and independents again, something the current party is not ideologically willing to do, the GOP will remain in the minority for the next couple of elections. But it's OK. Democrats went through the same thing and learned from it; Republicans will do the same, but not without great wailing and loud gnashing of teeth.

    February 12, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Frank

    The Democtats, Republicans nor the experts know how to fix the economy. If they would let Capitalism work, it would fix itself. Why bailout the banks, auto industry, etc.? If they fail, somebody will put up the money and start them again. The big banks that we are now bailing out did not have government help to start. The auto industry started from nothing and we can't do without the auto. Someone or a group of investors would take over these industries and make them work. Our Congress is only interested in helping out their buddies. Our economy needs to be pruned. When you have a tree that gets too big it does not produce as it should. If the tree is pruned, it produces much better. So, it is with the economy.

    February 12, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  12. JON


    February 12, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. cph9680

    Don't be so certain, Mr. Mendez.
    If the Dems don't play their cards right, they could be in the majority faster than they can blink!

    February 12, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  14. Michael

    Menedez is such a politcal hack, NJ is a nice place, but people like the corrupt, superficial blowhole Menedez does the state no credit

    February 12, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. Jeremy

    The government is TOO BIG. Democrats will be ousted by 2010.

    February 12, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  16. Chip

    The closed ranks, zero vote, unified rejection of anything that smacks of democrat-invented attitude of the republicans is evidence that the only way we will get anything done on the hill is to have one party in control. It's sad, but it's true. Our representatives no longer represent us, they think, once they get in office, their constituencies are a vague afterthought. When that happens, its time to redefine democracy.

    February 12, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  17. aaron

    I'll make it easy, republicans are scared to death Obama's stimulus package is going to be a success. Why are they scared? Because when it does work it'll shoot their philosophy of doing business in the head. They will be a dead party. Does everyone remember the Clinton administration when the country was doing verywell? When we had a surplus!? Listen republicans, tax cuts, DO NOT WORK!

    February 12, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  18. Proud American

    Republicans should consider another career. 2010 should be the least of those Idiots worries.

    February 12, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. Capitalist

    LOL...All the Liberals on this post complaining about Republicans and their wealth. Listen up, this is a capitalistic free market economy. Not everybody who is wealthy is from Wall Street, including Democratic Pelosi and Reid. They made their wealth from the tax payers!

    February 12, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  20. Keeping it real

    The republicans are scared of Obama, just like they were scared of MLK and his abilities,and his power over people, the way people hang on to his every word, the way Obama inspires people, to do and to act in ways they have never before, and I'm one of them. They are so scared that his vision is going to turn this country around and that it might be years and years before they (republicans) will hold the reighns again, that they are doing everything under the sun to block him, wonn't work with him, but will work against him. When you sow bad seeds what do you think is going to come up, when your motives are not right , let's see what comes up in 2012. Republicans have been croocked for so long, they don't know how to be straight. When ever Obama comes out of office, that's the day I stop VOTEING.

    February 12, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  21. bryan

    I don't know about you but |'ll take the Democrats way of stimulating the economy anyday. A way to stimulate the economy based on real economic theory of more government spending to boost GDP and giving money to Americans in stimulus money to boost consumer spending. They are only the biggest parts of both GDP and the economy. Anything's got to work better than the trickle-down or the "throw money at the rich and pray" method. This isn't a try something a billion times and it has to work once right, hasn't worked yet in the last 30 years, maybe this time, how about not. This is going to work and we'll have a bigger majority in congress. Let the repubs vote against the bill and commit political suicide.

    February 12, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  22. Bridg

    FANTASTIC! I can't wait for those Rethug bums to be trown out.

    February 12, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  23. eric

    lets cut through the bull. its the economy! if its better and employment and consumer confidence are up the dems will add to their majority. if they do it will be time to dump harry reid as leader. but the economy is regional when it comes to senatorial elections, so there will be degrees of difficulty. hope and change are very powerful themes and the republicans have neither on their side. they also have age against them. kansas, missouri (matt blunt vs. russ carnahan?), kentucky, florida and ohio are most vulnerable. followed by louisiana, alaska, and arizona (mccain can be beat), carly fiorina and meg whitman vs. boxer and loretta sanchez in california is a big loser. but peter king and giuliani in ny could be effective against patterson and whats her name. mike easley in north carolina vs. burr? brad henry in oklahoma vs. coburn? thats just gravy. the dems have the momentum, but are masters at fumbling it all away.

    February 12, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  24. Greeley

    Why does the republican party leadership hate America?

    February 12, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  25. Lynn in NM

    There are 2 senators and several representatives that I will not be voting for in 2010. They are Democrats. You don't want to listen to the people, it's time to get you out of office. Wait until they start this revenue sharing, and see where the rich Democrats throw their votes!

    February 12, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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