Bob Menendez is the junior senator from New Jersey and the first Hispanic to serve as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.Politics: Handicap your party’s prospects in the Senate heading into 2010.Menendez: We’re cautiously optimistic. The reality is that historically, the president’s party loses seats in the midterm elections. So we’re in the business of defying that history and in many respects we’re in good shape to do so. We start off with all of our incumbents running for reelection, while the Republicans have a number of retirements. Our incumbents are overwhelmingly in good shape. There are a couple that we have to work with to strengthen their position and they know that. In the open seats, I love Robin Carnahan in Missouri. In New Hampshire, recent polls have Paul Hodes beating potential challengers. In Ohio, it’s a little bit of an embarrassment of riches—[Jennifer] Brunner and [Lee] Fisher have shown in the polls recently that they beat [Rob] Portman in a state where I wouldn’t want to be the former Bush trade representative and OMB director. But it’s only May, and one thing the last cycle showed us is that things can unfold as we go along. So, while we do have historical challenges, we also have a situation where Republicans start off at a deficit by virtue of giving up five seats and are demoralized by the Specter switch.READ MORE in the June issue.