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. Todd (not the Alaska Separatist)

    Run these few remaining Republican scoundrels out of Washington. Republican ex-congressmen and senators can then get jobs as personal shoe shine boys for oil company and bank CEOs, befitting their experience in US Congress.

    February 12, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Kevin

    The way Democrats are ruining this country in the last three weeks pushing socialism and putting corrupted tax cheats in government I see the biggest turn around in seats in the next several elections favoring Republicans. For any Democrat in Congress now is absolutely delusional if they believe voters in this country is going to put up with their wasteful spending, corruption, and incompetence with solving problems. Socialism will fail and voters will show that, so all you Democrats, fear what is coming.

    February 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. Jane in San Francisco

    Let's kick out ALL the Republicans!

    February 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. Sick of it all

    Robert Menendez would do well to shut his pie hole and get on with the business of practicing bipartisanship and getting this country back on its feet. For God's sake, are these guys so isolated in D.C. that they need to take a 3rd grade field trip across America to see how bad it is? Both sides: Cut the rhetoric and the HS and get down to the business of saving this country. I really don't care if your ideology matches that of Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken, get off your pampered, spoiled rear ends and MAKE IT HAPPEN! Such idiots who run this poor democracy. May God help us all.

    February 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Otto

    Does anyone remember "The Hammer" Yes, Delay...he did to Texas what the devil does to the GOP. Is it pay back time? It should not be but this is "Poly-Tricks"

    February 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Tex

    Socialism!!! Porkulus!!!! Pelosi!! Democrats destroying America!!!!

    Sounds more like the screams of a dying elephant to me.

    February 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Nancy MI

    The people of this country have a hunger that can and will not be satisfied until the way things are done in DC dramatically change. Not every (D) is loved or safe, but know that the vast majority of the (R) party's leadership needs to wake up, grow up, and pull you head out of the sand or start looking for another occupation. Show us you have some ability or talent other than catering to big business. Instead, look at the big picture, it's not all about you and the game you play is a fool’s game. By no means is it too soon to be thinking about 2010. Bring it on, we're ready and waiting, and we are united.

    February 12, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Mike (buffalo)

    I vote with roy. This past election was about us poor dumb citizens telling both establishments to shut the h@ll up and get to work doing what is right. I am sock of the nonsense of the business of Washington being the election process. Youre there to govern!!!!

    The GOP did forfeit their right to cal lthe shots by backing the Shrub and the Shotgun for 8 years. But Reid and Pelosi also did by refusing to impeach them because of their crimes. The election game was more important.

    So now both sides: Sit down shut up, and restore this nation before China, Russia, and the Islamic bloc form a real Axis of Evil and take us out of the game!!!!

    February 12, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Bud Burgoon-Clark

    10,000 Rethuglicriminals at the bottom of the sea would be a good start.

    One of PRESIDENT Obama's priorities should be fixing the public school system that produced the "herds" of Rethuglicriminals who haven't a CLUE about government or economics.

    Revolution? Secession? Tax revolt? A Rethuglicriminal landslide in 2010?

    Man, I want some of what the Rethuglicriminals are smokin' ... that is some GOOD stuff!

    February 12, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Entiendes Mendez?

    You wil be biting your tongue in 2010 when this welfare hand out bill fails to do anything but put our Country farther in debt.
    Most Americans are realizing that the Democratic party is just a bunch of tax cheating crooks trying to spend their way out of a recession. Entiendes Mendez?

    February 12, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Nichols in STL

    You keep hearing about this Socialist society but we wouldn't be in this mess if past Republican administrations wouldn't have eliminated good manufacturing jobs for a so called service economy based on the financial sector!! Britain is a service economy and every program that uninformed Americans are whining about they have such as free health care!!

    February 12, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. JodyG

    I've always considered myself an independent and have voted for both sides at varying times. However, the republican party is so out of touch with the people and with the current economic reality, that I voted a straight democratic ticket for the first time in my life, and I will do it again if the republicans don't do something to clean up that party. Where is their fiscal responsibility? Where are the conservative values they believe in? They have turned into the party of spend, spend, spend and hide what you're doing at all costs. They lied to the American public about the WMD's in Iraq. They outed Valerie Plame to get even with her husband. They have spent more money (they didn't have) than any administration before them. They need to do something about their policies and leaders before 2010 or they will become a footnote in history.

    February 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. aggie7214

    Mike February 12th, 2009 5:42 pm ET – said:

    "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."

    Excuse me, but if my memory serves me correct – the absolute bottom of the depression was not until the late 1930's (around 1936-1939) and FDR was on the verge of losing the election in 1940 until that little problem called World War II came around. All his slick talk and socialist programs could not have saved FDR then just as now all the slick talk and socialist programs will not help osama and the democrats now – too bad they don't have a World War III to save them – or maybe that is what they are planning?

    February 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Nestor, Austin, TX

    He'll be right if the stimulus works. But since the stimulus won't work, there will be a bloodbath for Democrats in the House. Republicans will probably pick up a couple of seats in the senate, but in the house the Republicans will probably take back a majority. Obama is so far what REAL conservatives knew he would be, the most radical president in American history. Since America is a center-right country, that won't fly. The house Republicans have gotten their act together, which getting thumped in two straight elections should do. Don't get me wrong, they deserved to get thumped because they lost their way and strayed from conservative principles. Now that they're back to conservatism, they should do well in Nov. '10.

    February 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    The way things look right now, I wouldn't count on that, Dems.

    February 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. George Vreeland Hill

    The GOP made such a mess of things in this country with corruption and lies that it may be many years before the voters trust a Republican again.
    Ronald Reagan must be turning over in his grave with the things his Grand Old Party has done.
    For the sake of our future, we must continue to vote Democrats in office.

    George Vreeland Hill

    February 12, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. ryan in texas

    By 2010 Bush will be long gone and the Democrats will have no one to blame.
    Democrats have to have some one to blame (usually the rich or business).
    By then we may have to start paying for the bailout.
    If they can put that off just past the elections, they may be able to hold seats.
    By 2012, however, they will be HATED. The benefits will be long gone and the bills due.
    Looking forward many bills are going to come due as the baby boomers retire.
    The Republicans will try to cut the entitlements and the Democrats will try to fill the trough with taxpayers money. This will make political power go back and forth between the parties until our economy crumbles like Europe.
    Get ready for more polarization and over correction as two parties try to work the steering wheel.

    February 12, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. John

    If this stimulus bill works...those 9 states will be easy.

    February 12, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. fearful for my country

    We need republicans to move from the blue states that are never going red to the states like florida and Pennsylvania etc where all the electoral votes are. I have always been democrat but just tore my card up and registered republican. This wave of corruption by the democrats has got to be stopped.

    February 12, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. PC

    arithmetic is liberal February 12th, 2009 4:17 pm ET
    Yep - arithmetic is Liberal! Liberals have NO idea of arithmetic. They just re-invent reality to suit their "bottom line."

    February 12, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. I can see New Guinea

    Hey Mike, get a grip! You already are on welfare, except in the adult world, "welfare" means police and fire service; federally-funded banks and highways; public education; libraries; and Medicare, just to name a few.

    The sheer willfullness of the Republicans at large to blatantly ignore that the government and the deficit became bloated under their watch is breathtaking.

    February 12, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Andrew

    The Democrats are using Propoganda to win the 2010 elections.

    They are calling it now, so that they can shift the general outlook to them.

    If everyone's voting for the Democrats then I guess that's the right choice.

    It's worked for the past few elections!!

    February 12, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. To Mike:

    Dear Mike: In the United States, the depression, where, at its nadir in 1933, 25 percent of all workers and 37 percent of all nonfarm workers were completely out of work. Some people starved; many others lost their farms and homes. Homeless vagabonds sneaked aboard the freight trains that crossed the nation. Dispossessed cotton farmers, the “Okies,” stuffed their possessions into dilapidated Model Ts and migrated to California in the false hope that the posters about plentiful jobs were true. Although the U.S. economy began to recover in the second quarter of 1933, the recovery largely stalled for most of 1934 and 1935. A more vigorous recovery commenced in late 1935 and continued into 1937, when a new depression occurred. The American economy had yet to fully recover from the Great Depression when the United States was drawn into World War II in December 1941.

    February 12, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Tyler

    To the gentlemen who wrote:

    "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."

    In 1929, unemployment was not 25%. It did not peak until the mid 1930s. We did not escape the depression until the onset of WWII. That is what the consensus is and why Milton Friedman and the Monetarists rose to prevalence in the 70s when Keynesian policies (goverment spending) did not work.

    So please, watch the pedantics.

    February 12, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |

    what so I have to do to get my comments posted? Tell me and I will do it

    February 12, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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