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. Evelyn Mills

    Americans have little patience for Congress and their bickering with little results. About like Nero fiddleing while Rome burnt.By the Repoblican's not voting for the bill it now belongs to President Obama and company.If it fails to work there will be a change

    February 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  2. mark

    dems = idiots. History dictates that at some point the pendulum will swing in the opposite direction. You are not only fools but baffoons. You deserve Obama, Pelosi and Reid. I hope that you too end up in the poor house. You truly do. God save this great land from the tyranny at hand.

    February 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. MICK in MESA

    It's obvious even to a casual observer that the obstructionist, party first, plantation repugs and the GOP in general are self destructing before our very eyes.
    Remember the Whigs? Of course not and the GOP and their "idiot-ology" will be put on the trash heap of failed political ideas right along with them...

    February 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. Chuck

    The Republican Party is in more trouble than it wants to admit. It is trying to rebuild itself by appealing to demographic groups that are dwindling.

    February 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. Gerry In Toronto

    Robert Menendez should walk softly and carry a big stick, instead of a megaphone.

    February 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Sara


    I have never been this involved in Politics before, but now I want to stay involved and help the party grow!!!!

    The Republican brand is a dying one!

    February 12, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. mark

    Mike,you are a baffoon and and idiot. FDR's New Deal did nothing to slow the depression. Do your homework boy, history dictates it lasted longer as a result of FDR's policies. Geez.... how much more stupid can Americans get.

    February 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. RJ

    Don't forget Arizona. McCain needs to loose his seat and start his retirement. Let's go get Gabriel Giffords to run agains the tired old guy. She would win. Arizona would finally join the rest of the country, looking forward not back.

    That hack?
    You Dems are going to have to bring a stronger candidate than that to beat McCain.

    February 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. S.M.R.

    This opinion is very true because the GOP still stick to the idea of trickle down economics: tax cuts for big business and the rich. They can thank Bush and company for their down hill slide and the American people will never forget the shape our Country is in now.The people have spoken and the results will show again in 2010 !!!

    February 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. DrMan

    Unbelievable! If the left thinks that the electorate is going to keep them in power in 2010 when unemployment is 10%+ and the stock market is under 7,000, they are even more delusional than I originally thought.

    February 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. RogerM

    I have an idea. All democrats can pay taxes at a higher rate since they love to pay more taxes

    February 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Mike

    We are not afraid, and we are more committed than ever to bring our party back from its losses and fight like never before. God, the hubris of the Democrats is unbelievable.

    February 12, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. SarainDALLAS


    OBAMA WON DALLAS and other major cities in the last election!
    We are getting closer to making TEXAS as BLUE STATE!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. Mark - Berwyn, PA

    Hey Roberto, get real. In two years this recession is YOURS. And the stimulus package/debacle is YOURS. And our country's next Vietnam (i.e. Afganistan) is YOURS.

    YOUR party should be nervous Roberto.

    February 12, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. Jeff

    KJ February 12th, 2009 5:38 pm ET

    you say the Dems want to control your life but what exactly does the patriot act do, give you more freedom? Dems want your money, Repubs want your liberties, pick which is more important

    February 12, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. payback

    What ever happened to zel miller?......wasn't he who dissed the dems...to join the repubs.........DEMS RULE! can you say who won. THE DEMS. can you say who lost REPUBS.........................

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |

    Stupid republicans listening to a old senile person like John McCain. He is still upset that he lost and trying everyway he knows to undercut President Obama at the expense of this country. I hope the people remember this next year. He may not be out front, but he is the main engineer because all of this mess the Repubs are stirring up

    Take a rest McCain

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  18. I support President OBAMA

    Republicans your days are number you're party needs change.

    na, na, na, na! hey! hey! hey! GODDBYE!

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Luke Brown

    The Obama election has every indication of being a once-in-a-generation realignment. The Republicans have devastated the economy and destroyed our reputation in the world. In 2010, 2012, and 2014 .... American voters will not forget what George Bush and the Republican party have done to this country.

    Judging from the way the GOP has handled the stimulus politics, it is clear they still don't get it. It wasn't just black people out there with tears of joy in their eyes on Election night. The dreams of most Americans for their country are reflected in the vision of Barack Obama. GOPers need to make peace with that, and figure out what they can do to help him, not stop him.

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Tom

    I hope he's prepared to lose a seat from Connecticut, Senator Dodd is sinking fast!

    Thank God!

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. Independent chicago man

    roy, you are so right!!!!! lets keep it real if both side fail to fix things in four years there may be an independent in office soon enought, i'd be up for a third party candidate!!! I mean hey people never though they would see a african american president, who knows maybe a third party candidate could be next!!!

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. robert

    What is this country coming to. Will we be a country in 4 years, the way it is looking now we won't we will have the left coast, the right coast (its not right it is just to the right) and then we will have America. I have no desire to live the way they do in Cuba/China/France/UK. I like my freedom and the ability to work and get ahead. The way the Dems want to take us is you work and they take your money and give it to those who don't want to work so every one has the same thing. No thank you. Time for texas to pull out of this mess we have got ourselfs into maybe there will be a chain reaction and others states will pull out.

    February 12, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    ...oh, and just the arrogance of this guy and these comments, makes me want to roll up my sleeves even more, and fight like mad and like hell to overthrow Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid!

    February 12, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Andi

    Politicians need to realize that it's not about them. It's about the people. You can see clowns at the circus. Stop the madness and get down to business. Democrats and Republicans!

    February 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Objective Thinking

    "They just don't get it," Menendez said of his Republican colleagues, "How many more people need to lose their jobs?"


    Menendez HIMSELF is the one who doesn't get it. Just because someone is against the stimulus doesn't mean they don't think the situation is dire. It doesn't mean they want to "do nothing." I believe CNN posted an article from a libertarian citing some suggestions on what to do. It's perfectly fine if you disagree with the libertarian view of what to do about this situation, but to suggest that anyone who disagrees with YOUR way of solving the problem automatically "doesn't get it" or wants to "do nothing" is just plain ignorant. There are other things we can do besides back your plan.

    February 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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