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Menendez: Democrats Lost Momentum in August, but 2010 Prospects Look Good

While praising recruitment efforts during the summer months, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) on Tuesday acknowledged that Democrats lost traction during the tumultuous August recess.“We needed to be more aggressive in August,— Menendez said. “There’s no question some momentum was lost during that time.—The GOP entered September buoyed by strong polling numbers in Senate races from Nevada to Arkansas, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised the DSCC in both July and August. The two committees are nearly equal when it comes to fundraising for the cycle, but the Democratic committee continues to carry significant debt while the NRSC is debt-free.Menendez said he is confident that the gains Republicans made during the late summer do not have staying power. “I believe Republicans have adopted a strategy that buys them momentum in the short term but makes them really vulnerable in the long run.—It’s a strategy of opposition, he said, against two key public policy issues: the continuing economic recovery and health care reform. “They gambled against the economy, and the economy is recovering,— Menendez said. And while Democrats work to find solutions to health care, “they have said this will be Obama’s Waterloo. … If they fail at having us fail, they will be in a hard position moving forward.—NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh argued Tuesday afternoon that the biggest problem for Democrats moving forward is that an increasing number of Americans, particularly independents, “just don’t support what they’re trying to sell.— “When you have an agenda centered around higher taxes, a record level of spending, involuntary investments in car companies, government health care proposals and a cap-and-trade scheme that will raise energy prices, it’s not hard to see why the Democrats find themselves in this predicament,— Walsh said. “Similarly, it’s difficult to see how things turn around so long as they continue to turn a deaf ear to the concerns being voiced by the American people.— In a fundraising appeal to DSCC donors Tuesday afternoon, Menendez struck a somewhat more urgent tone considering the end of the monthly fundraising period was less than 48 hours away.Menendez said falling short on the committee’s money goal this month “is not an option. The Republicans would seize on the news as evidence of weakness. That would set off a vicious circle. They’re empowered, they attract attention, they attract money, they win.—Menendez did take time Tuesday to praise the committee’s recruiting success, noting that in all but one of the most competitive races the committee had found top candidates. That one exception is in North Carolina, where Democrats are hoping to knock off Sen. Richard Burr (R) next year. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) recently filed for the race, but it’s no secret that Democratic leaders are holding out for a bigger fish, specifically Rep. Bob Etheridge.Menendez said the party is also seeing opportunities in places that were lower-tier targets at the beginning of the cycle, such as Texas and Iowa.“One of the interesting things is that we’re seeing a bubbling of some candidates in states where we didn’t expect, and in fact they may be positioned to create a competitive race,— he said.The chairman specifically pointed to Houston Mayor Bill White (D), who Menendez said could be competitive if a special election takes place to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), who could resign to run for governor.“I never thought I’d have a potential competitive race in Texas, but I think we are on a road to it,— Menendez said.

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