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. cedgar

    All this people stating they will contribute to beat the Republican's
    Where are you going to get the money? The government? Rich
    over sea contributor's?
    I think knowledge of facts will decide who wins. One loud clear
    focus voice over shallows a crowded room of UN-informed.

    February 12, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. bill in montgomery

    Great! To bad the condoms were stripped out of the stimulus package, cause now we won't have any protection from the Democrats in Congress!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Jessica-Independent

    Romney 2012'

    it is funny how you are spitting out the same vocabulary that every republical speaks right now. It seems like you all get your information from one source and just go around spreading it with even processing it in you narrow minded heads. it really make you look like an idiot.

    why don't you try thinking for yourself, butmost importantly getting all the facts and understand the subjects of debate before you chime in. I am really starting to get what peolpe like you that fill the republican party are made of.

    February 12, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. rich

    Obama will get the majority of the next 4 generations of students.And once the rest of the nation recovers from this "republican recession".the rest of the voters, accept those who still approve of GB's job in the white house,will not vote republican.

    February 12, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. george

    generational theft is
    When you cut taxes on budget deficit years. In this case you reap the benefit your kids get NOTHING for the money they gave you.
    generational theft is NOT
    when you run budget deficits to built a school or a bridge or a road. In this case you borrow from your kids but in return you leave them something usufull
    Is this so hard to understand GOPers

    February 12, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Jack H

    "Seriously, look at where we were in 2000 and where are now and tell us again with a straight face that the Democrats are the one destroying the country."

    Um, look where we were in 2004 and 2006 before DUMocrats took control of CONGRESS and the SENATE.. Hello!

    With a Democratic Congress, Senate, and Whitehouse, the DUMocrats will have nobody to blame. Yeah, fools like Barney Frank can blame Bush, but Americans know that people like Pelosi, Frank, and Reid are just as guilty.

    February 12, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. C


    February 12, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Jespere

    Dems are determined to destroy this country? I am at a loss for words - can't comment on a foolish statement like that! Short memory you Repub turds have... BO has been in for 3 wks but has done more than most presidents have in the first 4 years...You jokers should just still with that turd spewer limbaugh's show for you commentary... I am really convinced that lots of Americans are insane! Something is wrong... maybe it's the water!

    February 12, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Jack H

    Let's see if we can get a DEMOCRAT to pay his taxes first.

    February 12, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    I say it is time to dump both parties! neither support the U.S. Constitution, and neither support the will of the people.
    It is timne the the Governemnt returns to being of the people, by the people and FOR the people not the corporate contributors, special interest groups, and lobbyists.

    February 12, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. go_figure

    Since its Menendez's job to be optimistic, I won't label him delusional. But if anyone believes what he says, that person should avoid all used car salesmen and anyone named Jim Jones.

    Viva 1994.

    February 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Eyes of Texas are Upon You

    Sound optimism from another stupid hispanic leader – wow!

    February 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Greg in Colorado

    I have faith in the dems.. we need to support those that are in control and give them ideas and call them instead of just griping about them. Of course the action taken by the GOP is to oppose anything and everything that Obama will do. Now maybe we can call them unpatriotic.. since the majority of the u.s. had to undergo that abuse for the last 8 years. They should fear 2010... like people are going to forget the last 8 years. Good luck GOP have fun being a regional party.

    February 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. tiff of Lithia Springs

    The Republicans should be very worried. I will reach into my pockets and volunteer to get rid of these OUT OF TOUCH bozos.

    February 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Mick

    Yeah, just wait until the annointed one's stimulus plan falls on it's face.

    February 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. brad

    let just focus on right now.

    February 12, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Derrick

    The Republican Party is a party of the PAST!

    They will be a marginalized party and the 2010 elections is going to prove this!!!!

    Even the Republican senators in congress are saying this, and this they know is a FACT!

    Proven fact, plain and simple is that anytime a Republican takes office, the economy TANKS! Anyone who believes differently is uneducated and uninformed. Do research, the facts speak for themselves!

    February 12, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. rickymo

    Who cares. Lets focus on the now. And for all of you people who believe this is the begining of the end. This is just the begining from the end of the last 8 years which were the worst time in our history.

    February 12, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. Jim

    He really should be thinking about today. Tomorrow is not a guarantee, and 2010 is a long way off. If the Lord is willing there will be a country here then.

    February 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Diane Panama City Fl

    Another gutless, clueless, obstructionist Republican bites the dust!!! Let him crawl back in his partisan hole where he belongs!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Paul, Riverside CA

    For all the repug TOOLS in the GOP shed, the crap that Gregg just pulled will put an even bigger target on them.

    February 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. best way to keep gaining seats is...

    best way to keep gaining seats is to not screw us

    transparency about the bailout

    get our boys home

    clean up this mess Bush left

    February 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. naqib

    Expat in Canada

    2000 was the last recession...
    Do a little history lesson...

    2006 Highest GNP in US history
    Greatest housing boom in US history
    255,000 new jobs in third quarter alone

    Dems won congress... all gone

    February 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Felicia

    Man! the dems came in and shut the repigs down, good for them the repigs suck big time.

    February 12, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Ted T

    Should you guys be focusing on what is in the stimulus bill that will affect our future generations? Do investigation on what part of the bill does the stimulus.

    February 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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