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. Greg Hodges

    While I would love to see the Democrats truely in charge with a filibuster proof Senate/Congress; and believe it would happen if those elections were held today; two years is a very long time in politics. Alot could hapen, such as another 9/11 attack; and oh how the Republicans would blame Obama were that to happen. Bottom line; no one can predict what the political landscape will really look like at the end of 2010.

    February 12, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. Mike J.

    Kick the bums out! NO rethugs in 2010!

    February 12, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. Gary

    We need 3rd and 4th party candidates. Both Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated no fiscal responsibility and poor insight into this crisis. The Dems are in control and they are ramming through disgraceful pork spending bills with or without a few Republican votes. Until we have a strong third party I guess we have to hope that the Republicans take back just enough seats to keep the Democrats in check but not so much that they can be dangerous again. For sure Nancy Pelosi needs to be replaced, by a Republican or Democrat probably doesn't matter as long as she is no longer in congress, her porkulus bill (formerly know as stimulus) will hurt this country.

    February 12, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. Sleepless in Colorado

    I know that CNN won't post this but I think that it's funny how people are getting mad over comments. Why don't you get off your butts and call your representatives? Get mad! Nobody cares about how mad you are. Sound like a bunch of cry babies with this Democratic vs. Republican crap. These parties could care less about you. For years they have been increasing their pay and power and few of us paid attention. Why don't you go have a barbecue with your neighbors and figure out how to fix what's local? Talk with your children, teach them and stop giving government power to rule your lives. If you get mad because what this idiot says about being optimistic then great! Be loyal Americans, not loyal party affiliates. There is a law that in parks you have to scoop up your dogs mess. Politicians should do the same after they speak.

    February 12, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  5. Truth Bomb Thrower

    The country has a bad case of B.O. and the Republicans are the deoderant. The G.O.P will be just fine in 2010. I predict they'll take Congress back.

    February 12, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. Independant Thinker

    The democRATs sure are busy BUYING votes.

    February 12, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. Frankie

    This stimulus bill will stimulate nothing but more government and larger deficits. The problem is Republican spending was out of control when they had power so they have little credibility with spending either. Nevertheless the Democrats have outspent them.

    The Republicans can regain the house if they can come up with a vision and even pick up some Senate seats. Maybe another contract with America but one they will live by

    February 12, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. Enough partisanship.

    Lyrics from a song - "There is no monopoly of common sense/On either side of the political fence."

    Although the song was about Cold War relations, reading the comments here indicate there's work to do at home. Please stop the childish name-calling and let's talk like and work like adults who need to get our communities/states/country moving again.

    February 12, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. judy in PA

    From 1950 until Reagan the national debt went down, during thr reagan bush years it went up, during clinton down and during the last bush up again.
    Sounds like the drms handle money better than rthe repubs in the last 20+ years. As of 2008 it was 65% of gdp. So explain why repubs who claim to be conservative raise the debt and the dems who you say are spenders lower the debt?

    February 12, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  10. John

    The comments on this board show the true intelligence of America. Wait in line for your handouts and take no responsibility. Spending money on pet projects will not stimulate the economy. Obviously there has been a lot of Kool-Aid drinking. Dont reward people who work hard and obey the laws – reward the lazy and stupid (welcome to Socialism).

    February 12, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  11. WorkinMan

    I got an idea......all the freeloaders (welfare junkies, tax evaders, social security disability frauds), idiots who lived above their means, CEOs who wrecked their companies, and congressional members that want to spend 800 billion of my tax dollars on a mess caused by 'Equal Housing Opportunity' programs- feed them all a nice PB&J compliments of Peanut Corporation of America. I think then they would get the idea of how SICK all of this makes me.

    February 12, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. Grandma

    all the state should be yours only if you do not ask Republicans to vote any more in the Senet

    February 12, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  13. WorkinMan

    I got an idea.......all the freeloaders (welfare junkies, tax evaders, social security disability frauds), idiots who lived above their means, CEOs who wrecked their companies, Congressional members who voted to spend 800 billion of my tax dollars to fix a problem caused by 'Equal Housing Opportunity' programs- feed them all a juicy PB&J compliments of Peanut Corporation of America. That would be awesome!!!

    February 12, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  14. DP

    To all of you liberals who expect the government to tax the workers more so you can sit on the couch smoking your free dope while the fields dry up to save a fish...you are going to have to pry my money out of my dead hands. I am not paying taxes so you can have a job. If the head of the IRS can make a simple mistake, so can I.

    February 12, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. Frankie

    Either party needs to express fear on the election in 2010. We have been mislead by both parties, which is why we are experiencing this economic crisis. I have to give credit to Obama, we have to change the way we think, we are in this together. I am fully positive that he is doing is best to make the changes to make this country strong again. The GOP lacks strong leadership and they need to put their pride aside and work together with the Democrats, the Democrat as well needs to do the same. As for the results in 2010, it is still unknown what the results might be. Even I can't predict the future.

    February 12, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. No Incumbents 2010

    Well call me a bitter, gun toting, religion clinging, capitalist pig, but I just don't see it the same way as this Senator in 2010.

    February 12, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. Simmy

    Capt Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah,

    That's a great idea. Have those states exempted from any Stimulus funds. Can you imagine how angry most of those people who listened to Limbaugh, and called Congress against the BILL would be?

    Gov. Sanford, from South Carolina, even said that he would not ask for any of the MONEY, yet 20% of those in his state are living below the poverty level. More than half of the rest are either laid off, or the "working poor," living off food stamps. If they put him back in office, they're gluttons for punishment. Most Republicans seem to have a 19th Cent. mentality in a 21st Cent. world.

    February 12, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. Mberwa, N.Y

    I am an independent, but one thing that saddens me about the republ politicians is that they all act like they dont know and dont even care about whats happening today in our country... they are one of two things
    1) they are either selfish which i hope they are not
    2) they have no clue about fixing the probs we are going thru every day.. if true, come 2010 sen.. menendez's claims will be true..

    February 12, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  19. D.Tin

    The GOP are gambling that whatever Obama and the Democrats do, the economy will not stabilize or recover. Then they will step in and "save the day". It is a gamble they should not take, because no matter what the people will always remember that they did nothing...

    February 12, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. Soldier girl

    Happy, happy, happy Greg the Republican will not be Commerce Secretary. Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. Dems Have No Chance Now with Reid's Train to Vegas

    We have all heard of Governor Palin's highway to nowhere. Well now we have Senator Harry Reid's high speed train to Las Vegas. Yes folks, included in the stimulus bill (with no earmarks per Obama) is the construction of a high speed train line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, home of your Senator Reid.

    Ole Harry and President Obama must be hping that the retired folks in LA take their one time $250 supplemental social security check and take it to Las Vegas to give to Harry's friend on the strip.

    Oh, and that $400 million for condoms. Well, Pelosi has put that back in the bill to be voted on Friday.

    There is also included in this jobs bill, as President Obama calls it, a billion dollars for NASA. Maybe the President is going to shoot unemployed people in Florida up into space.

    What the Democrats are trying to pull off here is nothing more than a bank heist from the US Treasury. It is shameful, bordering on criminal, and Americans losing their jobs, their homes, and their retirement savings, will not benefit from this bill whatsoever.

    It is a sad day for America.

    February 12, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  22. Chad

    Lynn in NM:
    You can only vote for 1 Representative. You know, the one from your district.

    February 12, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  23. Joe

    You liberals are too funny!!! Remember that the republicans controled congress until the dems took it over in 2006....oh & remind me again.....how long did it take for the dems to mess things up??? President Bush had 52 months of job creation until a little after the dems took over congress. Oh & hate to break it to you morons, but the president doesn't control the economy.

    February 12, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  24. To Patrick

    Then go to France. Nobody's stopping you.

    February 12, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |

    Hey neofascists, your demise is forthcoming. The number of young people who voted democrat will never tolerate your neanderthal party. You losers can only rely on the old-racists and ignorant in our country for votes. The new generation will never support scum like mccain or the other moron palin. Only the dumb supports your stupid party!

    February 12, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
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