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. Walter

    Typical Democrat yahoo counting his chickens before they hatch. Based on the policies that the Democrats are currently pursuing which will clearly fail, they will be going nowhere but down. And you can take that to the bank.

    February 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Paul H

    If things keep going as they are the people will be tired of the Dem's. Especially when congress is basically shoving an agenda down our throats. The voice of the people has been silenced by this government!
    Just watch the way things play out over the next couple of years. Yes we were hungry for change, and hungry for Obama, and the energy he creates with his elegant speech, and just the right words for everyone.
    But with Obama comes the low approval rated congress, and a left agenda that is full of big government, and well as the Venom spewing mouth of Nancy Pelosi. By 2010 if we still have the right to vote, people will be sick of these guys.

    February 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. Spencer

    It is strange to watch the Republicans bury themselves in a marble mausoleum. Do they not get it? Do they not realize how angry people are out here? Why are they trying to destroy the nation after eight years of their failures? Doh! Because, that’s what they’ve been trying to do since the days of FDR.
    They overpaid the Wall Street crooks by billions just before Junior slipped out of town! Their wealthy *base* is still on the Riviera drinking champagne and eating chocolate dipped strawberries while *regular Americans* are in breadlines and soup kitchens! Hey! Joe Sixpack! Are you better off then you were a year ago?
    Any party that embraces Rush and Sarah has got big problems. It’s time to finish cleaning house, clear out these bankrupt Republicans, and bring Rush Loudmouth down a peg or two. If the Republicans think obstructionism is a substitute for governing, they have another think coming. The midterm elections are less than two years away, and I have a feeling that another ten seats in the senate will go to the Democrats. Meanwhile, if you have one of these traitors in your neighborhood, get on the phone and tell them to shape up or ship out!

    February 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. John in Kansas

    Kansas is a swing state?

    Since when?

    Sebelius is a once-in-a-generation type candidate for the Democratic Party in Kansas. The last time a senate seat was held by a Democrat in Kansas was in the 1939.

    February 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. peter from Orlando florida

    I can't wait for Obama to get his first fillibuster from Senate come midterm election 2010.GOP is for Goofy Old people doing nothing.

    the reps are done believe me.their fast ideologists are no more working and that is why they now destroying some good moderate Grand Old Party and threaning them for their seat in 2010.

    February 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. Da Professor

    Mendez is right! The GOP should be hiding their face in shame as they have, apparently, NO new ideas to offer a disgusted America. All we hear form them is "bash Obama" at every turn and voice their fight em to the death chant.

    Oddly, you'd think that the GOP Group would have come forward with a few creative ideas to get us out of this Bush economic disaster. BUT ... We hear nothing but the old and failed "tax cuts for the wealthy" and "trickle down economics". Anyone feel the trickle down spray from the past 8 too long years? What a sad group!

    February 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Steve Columbia, SC

    Speaking so early into your new majority is a foolish thing Senator Menendez. One might wait until we see how your new majority performs in Congress and the White House before you predict how the Republican Party should fear the 2010 congressional elections.

    February 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. buddy

    This is the type of pompous thinking which puts the right back in the game.

    February 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Glennis

    The little twit. Let's hope he and his cohorts haven't completely destroyed what's left of this country by then.

    February 12, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. JD

    Two words: WISHFUL THINKING!

    February 12, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Big Al

    One should not count their chickens before they hatch.

    Two years is a lengthy period for the public to wake up and understand what is being done to this country.

    February 12, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. Eyes of Texas are Upon You

    Hey arithmetic! Fools die young!

    February 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. les franks

    This is hilarious. If this country still exists as such in 2010, and the disaster that is the "stimulus package" has played out, there is no way that an electorate comprised of people with any residual brain function would vote for a democrat.

    February 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. Baaaa... Baaaa... Baaaa ......

    What else would you expect that the "Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee" would say. You don't think he would actually get uo there and say.... "We may gain seats in 2010........unless things continue to head south.........then theres a high probability that we will get our arses kicked in 2010."

    February 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Steve Columbia, SC

    Miss Angie in PA, are you ready to live in the USSA, the United Socialist State of America under Czar Obama?

    February 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Senator Menendez needs to realize that without Barak Obama at the top of the ticket Dems may not be as popular as he thinks. Take a look at the runoff election results in Georgia for an indication of things to come in 2010. Not surprisingly Deomocratic challenger Jim Martin drew HALF the votes in the runoff when compared to the November election!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Brad

    GHOST- I am a TAX PAYING CITIZEN OF THE U.S. but can you and these other DEMOCRAPS say the same thing? Oh wait I forget if you get a position in this adminicraption you get to run out and pay your taxes you owe first and call it a small oversight or mistake.
    Only mistake is we elected OLD MONKEY BOY in the first place.
    Gurantee 2010 will be the day that the Democraps run under rocks where they belong.

    February 12, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. tageis

    What about personal responsibility folks? The government can't do everything for you – it's your job to work and make wise decisions. Yes, people are hurting – but what about neighbor helping neighbor instead of asking the government for a hand out. I DON'T WANT A HAND OUT!!!! NO THANKS OBAMA!

    February 12, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. JK

    It's so funny how republicans talk non stop about how democrats are going to "destroy the country" Yo, check your head. You had full control and you BLEW it. Dems get a free ride because the country knows who was responsible for this mess. Bye bye.

    February 12, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Andy

    This bill that only the mindless people who believe anything Obama says will hopefully hurt the dems chances in 2010. Hard to tell after watching those shameless people in Florida cry and beg the Govt. for handouts. They are the core of the Obama base.

    February 12, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Russ

    A lot can change in one year........The last year has proven that. I think every single one of our illustrious representatives should realize that we are all watching every move they make, no matter which side of the aisle they sit on. Independents decided the last election. We will decide the next one as well.

    February 12, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Lee

    The Republican Party has become the rigue party, yjhe obstructionist party, the know-nothing party, the greed-and-steal corporate party, the anti-science party, and the party of domestic and foreign disaster,

    Now that they are becoming a southern regional party strongest in the former confederacy, and still with secessionists among the party, they are being led by ignorant radio commentators, and haters who are against modernity itself.

    Hopefully that party will continue to marginalize itself and another new party may arise.

    February 12, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. gslippy

    That's a lot of big talk for an election 21 months away; a lot will happen by then, most notably the destruction of our economy by the Democrats.

    People are looking for miracles from the Messiah, and when they don't come as fast as they want, they'll consider voting for Republicans again.

    February 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Larry Bahn

    Two years is a long time (actually just over a year & a half) and without some improvement in the economy it will be anyones race. I will be working hard to increase the Dems majority but the worst possible thing is overconfidence. As a former cross country coach I know you never start talking smack until the race is run.

    February 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. greed is not good

    The Republican message is stale and obsolete. All they want to do is pretend like it is the 80's and try to keep bringing up Reagan.

    February 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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