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. Ellie, MD

    2010 can't come soon enough for me. It's time to send the GOP home for good!

    I'm sick and tired of the same old song and dance. ENOUGH already.

    February 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. Mike

    This party's cockiness might just be their downfall. They better first worry about getting this country out of its funk or they will be finding themselves in the minority once again.
    Just like a Democrat though. They think they won these elections because of the wonderful things they've done when in fact it was more due to the ineptness of the previous Congress.
    I'm surprised so many people actually fell for the BS line the Dems were selling.
    Let's see in 2 years where we are at before either side starts tooting their horn. If this so called "stimulus" doesn't work then the Dems have nobody to blame but themselves because it is THEIR plan. Remember absolutely ZERO Repubs voted for it in the house and only three Senators did.
    On the flip side if it works then they can take all the credit and will deserve election day victories in two years.

    February 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. LisaB

    Arizona, don't forget Arizona! Time for new ideas and new blood in some of these seats. Look what happened with Stevens in Alaska, longevity does not always mean experience, sometimes it just means stale!!

    February 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Niki

    I'm at the point that I cannot STAND the GOP. I want EVERY one of them to lose their seats. CNN might not even realize this but the American people back President Obama and the way the Republicans are acting is making us MORE loyal to him. I'm also very annoyed that CNN is only critical of the Obama Administration but does not even QUESTION the motives of the GOP. Instead you give them a forum without question. Do your job and analyze both sides.

    February 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. CC

    Why can't the Dem's pay their taxes on time like the rest of America?
    Or find cabinet members ???

    February 12, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Jo

    Please use the big guns and buy as much air time as you can where seats are coming up. Especially in AZ where the McShame fellow lives. My congressman is a republican and I really hope the democrats can get a good canidate to go after him. I have already seen the republicans have no brains of their own and cannot make any decison with first consulting with their leadership. We need individuals who care about the people and have a mind of their own.

    February 12, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Silvertide

    That kind of hubris - you know, the kind exhibited by the king of smug, Chuck Schumer, as he misguidedly declares that "nobody cares" about the more "porky" aspects of the stimulus package - can only come back and bite you the behind.

    For the good of the country, I hope that Barack Obama ends up being the best president in history but as a fiscal conservative, I'm not encouraged by his first month in charge.

    February 12, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. Simmy

    Expat in Canada,

    Sweep around your own front door. Mind your business. We'll take care of ours thank you. My President is known around the world. What is your leaders' name? Keep it zipped.

    February 12, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. lifeisgood

    "Joe from Boston"...I'm with you buddy, let's get rid of all of them and get some rep's who care about the people of this country instead wasting their time and OUR money worrying about how many can be elected in the future.

    One other idea I have...let's take away the private health care and pensions that all politicians receive and make them pay into Soc. Sec. like all other working americans do...then I bet we would see some major improvements in Soc. Sec. & Medicare!

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Mike

    I'm thinking of quiting my job and going on welfare. Now that the Dems are in control I'll have free food, health care, and free money every month. Might not be a rich mans bounty but at the rate this party is going we'll all be on welfare someday anyway.
    It's kind of easy to spend money with wreckless abandon when A) it's not yours B) you are not responsible for paying it back and C) You will more than likely blame the whole mess on the Republicans if it doesn't work.
    Good for you Democrats. Keep tooting your own horn. It might just be your undoing.

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. change in America

    Yeah the Republican are about to get the boot....No more Republican especially Sarah Palin and McCain

    Demoncrate 2010

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. HB In LA

    Get all of these republicans out of office!

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Alicia

    @Expat in Canada If you are an Expat and you now live in Canada, what weight does your opinion hold? Why are you even commenting?

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Thank you for waking up the Republicans. I see a return to the "contract with America" type of Republican party coming! As an Independent, I could support that.

    2010 is going to be our chance to demonstrate our buyer's remorse. Dems are dreaming if they think they'll win the mid-terms with they way they're governing right now!

    Typical of the Democratic party. They'll be in power for a total of four years in 2010, and then the party's over. We're not going to let you spend our grandchildren's money anymore!!

    Let's get back to Capitalism!

    February 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. mkase

    "contribute to the detriment of this country"?? Your kidding, right? You really should take a look around you. This country has been gutted by your beloved GOP. They deserve the whatever they get and if they keep conducting themselves as they are, the Grand Old Party will be the Grand Gone Party before long.

    February 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. KJ


    You are absolutely on the money! How people have been so blinded by this obvious socialistic Obama is beyond me. He and Pelosi and some of the other idiot Dems in Washington are turning this into a socialist country. Why is it that people are having a hard time seeing this? That stimulus isn't going to help anybody, just make things worse for us and our children for years to come. Open your eyes people. Admit you made a mistake. But yet that's something you'll never do. Democrat = Big Government = your life isn't your own anymore. It's theirs! We are less free every single day people.

    February 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Hope

    Based on the fiasco they have taken us through on the stimulus bill I agree with Menendez, the only way we can achieve Universal Health Care is to give Democrats a majority and that we will.

    February 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Dawn in KS

    So what? I don't care what they are optimistic about in 2010. It is only February of 2009. We have 11 months left in this year. DO SOMETHING NOW, WASHINGTON!

    February 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. republicans hate america

    that is why republicans do not want to fund education because they know that only stupid people will vote for their backward thinking of spendulus bills of war and tax cuts for foreign companies like haliburton. they hate this country they always have and they always will.

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Burt

    Most Americans are idiots, and easy to manipulate. It's the stupidity of the average citizen that keeps Democrats and Republicans in power. And, of course, fatcat bankers who win either way. Whether you're pro-Democrat or pro-Republican, you're a sucker – plain and simple.

    Plato was right about democracy.

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    Sorry Senator. It will be the Democrats who will get wiped out in 2010 for this outrageous bill you are shoving down our throats!

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. Melissa

    Given the behavior of the Republicans, they really shouldn't be optimistic about anything. We're all tired of this "bully" mentality.

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Brian

    I thought Democrats were supposed to hang out here and Republicans were supposed to hang out over on the Fox comment boards no?

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Joanna

    To all those people criticizing the Democrats, I don't see them possibly being able to compete with Republicans in mismanagement. Who can match two wars, turning a budget surplus into a rather large deficit and a recession in just eight years of power?

    February 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. bsmith171

    how many bribes has menedez taken this week?

    February 12, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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