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. barbra k

    i read many comments. it seems the people want to criticize Obama for
    not having cleanedup the mess yet that the Bush administration and
    all related republican senators and congressmen have left. I guess they
    don't realize it took that administration 8 yrears from day 1 to put us in this
    position. Mr,Obama was installed 1-20-09. It is now 2-12-09. What do
    you expect. He does something and Rush Limbaugh and all republican
    senators pull a ram. They pull peer pressure actions. These are not the sensible representative that people elected. They act like children.

    February 12, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Charlie in Maine

    I hope he is right we need that. Plerase no pre-mature "Mission Accopmplished "signs though. The best thing to do is to work like hell on behalf of the people and they will come through. If the Republicans keep acting the way they are towards my Senators and maybe we Maine Democrats could woo them an we wouldn't have to wait.

    February 12, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. Lizzy


    If President Obama continues the way he has been secession or revolution will happen before 2010. Nothing personal here but the Rethugs will recapture both houses because the average American is as dumb as butter. No? Give me a break.

    Why is everyone Ma and Pa Kettle in this nation. I agree with Murtha.

    February 12, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. Tina, NC

    Please don't forget NC. We have to get rid of Richard Burr!

    February 12, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Kathy

    Has anyone noticed how many of the Republicans have a very shorty memory.

    February 12, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. Juan

    Oh, to be a Democrat in the 21st Century!!! Who would have amagined that we would be in a position to help lead our government, electronically, in determining the needs of the people, by the people, for the people. I have been encourage by the withdrawal of the Gregg nomination for Secretary of Commerce.
    If he needs a pickle on his way to the GOP Ranch I will be happy to be the procurer.

    February 12, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. No Incumbents 2010

    Washington DC that's where I want to be gimme gimme gimme gimme living in Washington DC.

    February 12, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  8. edlynn

    The fact is that the Republican party actively worked against the interests of the majority of the American people. And more and more people are waking up to that fact every day. You GOP die hards can gripe all you like, but the fact remains – there are always consequences for actions, and the GOP will be suffering from the consequences of the Bush Administration and everything else the GOP did while they had the chance, for a long long time. And that is as it should be.

    February 12, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  9. Matt

    I believe that the democratic party will inplode as it usually does, in fact I think the president will be surprised at how obstructive Ms. Pelosi will be. Mr. Obama is destined to be a one term president and the democrats will show the world how truly out of touch they are, but there will be a destructive trail left behind.

    February 12, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. Rick Sutter

    Greeley, Republicans don't hate America, they hate deadbeats and socialists. Which one are you?

    February 12, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  11. Hurley

    Republicans are on their way out and deservedly so. They have become a party that's about nothing but religion, as their excitement Palin – who had nothing to recommend her but her evangelicalism – proves. And you don't deserve to be running the country when you've reached adulthood and still need imaginary friends.

    Conservativism got a thorough testing over the past 8 years, and it failed miserably. If Republicans have any hope at all, it's that the mess they made is so huge that it'll take years to fix and the public may forget that they – and they alone – caused it. As of now, however, I'm amazed that they're still showing their faces. They were consistently and catastrophically WRONG about everything this decade, and yet they still think we should listen to them?

    Republicans, if you want any credibility at all, get a track record of success first. You don't have one, so your criticisms are a JOKE. You have FAILED, FAILED, FAILED, and we're not going to hire you again until you've proven you've learned from that failure. So far, you haven't. You can't even take responsiblity for your own actions.

    February 12, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  12. PT

    WOW! The us -vs- them on this thread is pretty disturbing. Though I must say, it is amusing to see such hatred and intolerance from a group (Demos) whose battle cry is acceptance and tolerance. Is anyone else perplexed by that? Want to change...tolerate this:
    – I'm a white male, hunter, gun-owner and Christian.

    February 12, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. New Thinker

    Both sides need to take the high road considering the dire straits we are experiencing. Setting a good example is the road to victory in 2010. Moderates need to re-take this country away from the extremists on the right and the left. Obama gets it!

    February 12, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. John

    I think the GOP should eat some peanut products from processing plants located in the southeast US.

    February 12, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  15. jersey

    well menendez is someone to listen to considering how much government corruption there is in this state...him and corzine can take it shove it where the sun don't shine...the rupubs will be back and the messiah will be gone..

    February 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. David

    I Like #1's comments – I would like to see Illinois refuse the money and also refuse to pay the tax increases that are coming. Economists have said the average family of 5 will pay an additional $50,000 in taxes in the next 10 years when this stimulus does not work. I fear for this country. Watching California and their terrible fiscal problems. This fiscal mess will continue to mushroom...

    February 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. TCM

    Democrats have caused the financial meltdown...this will all become clearer, even to the most ignorant liberal in time to come....the dems will be ousted in 2010...easily

    February 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. Lewie

    For the 1st 35 years of my life I proudly voted Republican. However, in November 2010, I will vote for anything Democratic – period. If the Democratic candidate is in a grave, I'll still vote for him/her.

    February 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    @ Kathy

    That actually might explain them wanting to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

    February 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  20. Alicia

    I am from Pennsylvania. Yes STEELERS!!!! I am Independent and always vote for Senator Specter. Senator Specter is proof that not ALL Repubs are shallow and narcissistic fools.

    Senator Specter is a Republican that cares more about the USA than himself. He has put his political career on the line against the Rush and OReilly smear machine.

    I am campaigning for Senator Specter. Also, some Dems in Pennsylvania are already getting on board for Senator Specter.

    The rest of them don't wear flag lapel pins has anyone noticed? Are they no longer Americans?

    February 12, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. mbrown

    Why do so many people think that our government owes them a living? I have worked all my life and have never ever recieved a government handout. Why do people in this day and age think that they have absolutely NO responsibility for managing their own lives?

    February 12, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  22. David

    #501 – Bush cleanup – look at history. Look at what Bush was dealt on day 1 with the economy (how we forget) and then 8 months into his administration he has the worst terrorism on our land in history. With all of this, he improved our economy to one of the best in history, that is until the Democrates stepped in to office in 2006. Ouch – downhill ever since. Quit blaming Bush for Clinton's mess and don't blame Bush for America's stupidity in 2006. And, don't blame Bush for Obama's inexperience. Take a look at what all Obama did for Illinois – I live here and no one can tell me what he did except vote "Present". The true Obama is coming out of the closet. His days are numbered. Republicans will take both houses in 2010 and the Presidency in 2012 (if not sooner).

    February 12, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  23. waitaminute

    The Dems need to be careful. They are already starting to sound like the Republicans used to when they had the seats. Things can change in a hurry, folks. It's important to note that they are already starting to talk about "winning seats" and "expanding their majority" instead of fixing the economy or dealing with two wars or global warming or any of those minor issues. If everybody's reaching across the aisle what difference does it make who's got the majority? Why even have an aisle? The gamesmanship goes on and bankers go to the spa on the taxpayer as Joe Working-Schmuck can't find a job. And he can't even have a peanut-butter sandwich without risking his life. Fix this broken wreck of a country and you'll get re-elected!! But don't start talking smack until you've actually done something.

    February 12, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. Conservatives are Dying, Liberals Turning 18

    Firstly, I don't think Dems need to reference comments by a spineless drug addict. However, it really doesn't matter if Obama is successful or not, the demographic shift in this country that Obama rode into office will continue for years to come. Unfortunately, the Repubs lack of love for the real America (not just well off white folks like myself) and the overwelming rejection by the mainstream of so called conservative ideas threatens to make this a one party system. Many would argue that it already is.

    February 12, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. Killa

    Us or Them. Them or Us. Them make a deal with Us. Us make a deal with Them. I don't see We The People anywhere in government today. Both of these parties are chock full of greedy individuals that have no regard for the populace. Stop following those that do not care for you.

    February 12, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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