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. Roy

    Speaking as a Democrat: BOTH SIDES should quit the rhetoric and get this economic mess solved. Don't you think the biggest issue in the 2010 election will be.....the economy....DUH!
    If both parties fail in 2009, in 2010 we may have a third party like it or not!

    February 12, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. TexasAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Senator, I would hold my tongue a little if I were you. No sense in sounding so cocky. Let's be civil.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Mike

    To those like Jp talking about revolution and secession...and you have the audacity to call yourselves Americans. You should be ashamed of yourselves. To attack Obama for how the stimulus may not work is the same mentality that had us invade Iraq because it "might" have WMD's.

    Bush was despised in 2008 because of what he did starting 2001, not the other way around. It's hilarious to think that people whose training in economics likely consists of one high school course know more about how to address this crisis than a majority of the people who have made this their life's work.

    All I hear from the opposition is just that...opposition. The only alternative solution is tax cut this, and tax cut that. News flash, people! Tax cuts don't create jobs. If they did, employment should have gone up during the last administration.

    Research the 1930's. I won't go into any similarities or differences between FDR's New Deal and this plan, but the fact of the matter is that the New Deal slow down the Great Depression. In 1929, unemployment was at around 25%. When the ND was enacted, it improved to 10%. History tells us, that the stimulus surely won't solve the crisis, but it will slow down the bleeding long enough to give us time to come up with that ever elusive "perfect" solution.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. DJ

    Let's not forget that the Republicans were going to be the "permanent majority" party after the 2004 elections before the religious right became convinced that they were bullet proof. When the Christian Taliban turned the Constitution into a wash cloth things didn't go so well in the midterms.
    Who knows how things could go between now and 2010? If the Democrats can keep their base under control, and not let them control the party, they'll be all right. If not, well, let's form a third party, because the Republicans are delusional and the Democrats are fools.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Anna in MN

    I am so grateful to Obama for this stimulus bill. We have 80 "shovel ready" projects and one of them possibly just saved my life or that of a friend/neighbor. The most dangerous highway in our county is on the list to be fixed immediately . . . it wasn't slated until 2013, and possibly later because the state doesn't have money.

    So . . . direct impact to me personally IMMEDIATELY. I will never vote Republican again. People have died on this road, and finally the government is doing something to fix it. Thank you Obama and those who voted for this bill. You have my eternal support.

    It's about time we fixed our falling bridges and failing roads.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Franky

    You all think is a joke, huh? And a political game, huh? You m--- think I'm playing, huh? You think I am, huh? Alright go ahead, you're the media and the networks everybody else watches and the politicians, go ahead, cry in your f--- room and I'll just make your life easier than Gov Palins...

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. Jeff

    The Democratic party is only enjoying this success because there is so much hatred of Bush. Just because you're not Bush, doesn't mean everything you do is justified or correct.

    In two years, it will be Pelosi, Reid, and Obama's America. I'm guessing that will make for big Republican gains in the House and the Senate.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. mkase

    Hey Rick, did you notice that the President let the Congress fight it out and position themselves publicly and then went to the People of this country, presented the facts, and forced the "children" in Congress to get something done that was closer to what HE wanted?

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Steve

    Demcrats are fool to issue such an idiotic warning so far out when their pork laden stimulus and all the money they are printing comes back to haunt them.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Mike in Houston

    The dems will lose control of both the Senate and House in 2010. Two years of increasing inflation, increasing unemployment, higher deficits and an escalation of war in Afganistan will remind voters that it is never a good idea to put government in the hands of neophites.

    February 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. h day

    there is no way the Dems will pick up any more seats! it will swing the other way for sure. As these liberal democrats go along with their greedy ways of all or nothing so soon into this year and Obama's presidency, they will all be voted out over the next two election cycles. THEY ARE IDIOTS AND THEY ARE NOT DOING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, aside from people on welfare and illegals.

    February 12, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. Kevin

    "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."

    Things got better from 2000-2006 as Bush's tax cuts helped us get over the .dot com bust, and did not start to tank until the democrats got their control of congress. Still, there's plenty of blame to go around, but those who continue to bash Bush for every breath he took, but get indignant over any criticism of Obama are hypocrites.

    This article was a joke, no balance or responses from republican leadership, no substance at all.

    February 12, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. republicans hate america

    Joe Boston maybe democrats would not be worried about this mess if the republicans had not happily do what they always do determine the utter destruction of this country with joy and lust

    February 12, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. Steve

    It is the Democrats who should fear 2010. This pork barrel package known as "stimulus" is very unpopular (54% opposed, Rasmusson poll). Now Obama and the Democrats own this plan. Election 2010 will be a referendum on this. Why do you think Gregg is withdrawing from his nomination? He saw a sinking ship and jumped off while he still can.

    February 12, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Franky

    And by the way, the boys wanted me to let you know we'll be having the last laugh in the end...maybe I should let the "American people" decide for themselves, I mean, it is ashame they are cheap and can't afford nothing. Ohh well, it is a shame that the American people sure are missing something, but ohh well, all I know in the end I'm gonna be saying what I told my boy Ed a long time...I told you so and by the way, I am good...

    February 12, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. AnaB

    @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?"

    Because others cannot see the little fantasy that you have in your head.

    February 12, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. An American

    If this Country ever gets to be a one party Country – does not matter which one – that would be the worse thing that could happen to us. Let's just wait and see what the "chosen one" does over the next four years before you start talking about a 'take over". Obama has to get us out of this mess first without the government owning us – let's see if he can do that.

    February 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Blue is my favourite colour

    I keep hearing the neocons talk about what a bad idea the stimulus package is and how Obama is doing such a bad job. Now you know how we felt when your retarded chimp Bush made mistake after mistake, made a fool of himself and created the disastrous view the world has of America.

    I don't hear John McCain indicating that he has a better plan, and he did not state that he had a better plan during the campaign–he just talked a lot about Obama's plans for the country and how it would ruin us. Note to Republicans: Do you still not see the pattern of behavior here? Republicans are busy moaning about what the president is doing, and trying to stop it, but they have offered no alternatives. If you can't think, or resolve problems yourselves–why on earth should you still represent anyone in the House and Senate?

    February 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. arithmetic is liberal

    note to the Limbaugh zombies here: SOCIALISTIC IS NOT A WORD!!!!

    EVery time I am convinced that you are a bunch of fools, you open your mouths and PROVE IT!!!

    I challenge ANY Republican on here to give me a working definition of socialism. If ANY of you can do it without relying on Websters or Wikipedia, I SWEAR TO YOU that I will donate $10 to the Republican Party!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. Mike D. in San Diego

    People need to quit rooting for politicians and political parties the same way they root for their favorite football team. I voted for Obama but I'm far from loyal to him. He'll earn my respect not with good speechs but with results. People are already chanting 2010!!! 2012!!! and the Democrats have yet to produce reults (granted they haven't had chance yet.) I'll turn on Obama just as quickly as I voted for him. Quit being loyalists folks and hold them ALL accountable. Don't think your guy or gal in Washington isn't just as capable of being an idiot as Bush was for 8 years...if you can't see that you're a fool I don't care what party you belong to.

    February 12, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. boered1

    WAAAYYYY TO EARLY for this kind of talk from the Democrats! Can't they wait for the ACTUAL ELECTION before touting how well they will do? Stratigically it is foolish to announce Where you will be pushing hard at, politically it is foolish to have so much over confidence, people see this as a sign that you are not worried about governing but about WINNING and sociologically it is foolish because, as we all know, two years is a LONG time in politics and things have a way of changing.. ALOT!


    February 12, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. JT in CA

    By that point there won't be any elections. The victorious socialist "democracy" of America will have their goosestepping youth brigades putting down any opposition. Also, the spendulus package will further enhance the Dems voting base as useless citizens who know nothing about our government, the Constitution, or the foundations of their own country will vote in droves. The voting lines will be split between the useless, pea-brained moochers and the supporters of freedom who actually work and pay taxes, unlike many of the Dems.

    February 12, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. JohnL

    It's horrific to want the elimination of a political party in any democracy. Yes, the Republican administration for the past 8 years hasn't been particularly bright, but not totally without merit. Congress has been majority Democrat for the past several years and we are still in our current situation. Please try to remember that not every Republican supported GW and not all Democrats opposed him. Vote for the politicians that will represent the best interests of the public and drop the labels already.

    February 12, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. Deb

    Yes we can and Yes we will!!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. mkase


    yeah, socialism, I can't stand for giving all that taxpayer money to the fools on Wallstreet. We need to get back to Capitalism and since we taxpayers gave them all that money, I guess that means we bought their banks. Throw the bums out of my office!! I have work to do and a substantially larger salary to earn!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23