John Warner Retirement Watch: Another Lackluster Fundraiaing Quarter
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 12:06:35 PM EDT
I've been on the John Warner retirement watch for the past few months, particularly since it emerged that he raised only $500 in the first quarter -- a rather stunning achievement for an incumbent, one that requires deliberate and intentional moves to shun potential donors. Since that time, the signals (for instance here and here) have continued to point to the strong possibility that Warner will not, in the end, run for another term representing Virginia in the Senate. Now The Hotline's Quinn McCord reports that Warner's latest campaign finance filing is not convincing many that he will run this cycle.
2ndQ FEC reports have been filed today for 3 GOP senators widely rumored to be considering retirement in 2008: John Warner, Chuck Hagel, and Larry Craig.
Warner had nowhere to go but up, considering he only raised $500 in the 1stQ, and indeed, his campaign brought in $71K in the 2ndQ ($60K of it from PACs), raising his CoH to $734K. Still, that's nowhere near the amount that an active re-election campaign would have raised at this point, so don't expect those retirement rumors to settle down anytime soon. Craig's fundraising was slightly more active in the 2ndQ ($201K), as was Hagel's ($388K), giving them CoH totals of $549K and $483K respectively. For Hagel, this is an uptick from the $144K that he raised in the 1stQ. (Craig raised $125K in the 1stQ, so he was a bit more active too). As reported earlier, Thad Cochran (also a retirement possibility) raised $312K for the 2ndQ.
Based on these numbers, it seems that most of these senators are merely keeping their options open. With the arguable exception of Warner, they haven't completely shut down their fundraising apparatuses, but they obviously don't feel the need to raise money in earnest yet (i.e. the $1M-$1.6M range that targeted incumbents are raising). Some may simply feel safe enough that they don't believe they need to build sizable war chests to win re-election, while others may indeed be leaning towards retirement.
The fact that Warner raised just $11,000 from individual donors is rather remarkable -- not as much so as raising $500 in total in the previous quarter, but nevertheless remarkable. Warner has, in effect, "completely shut down [his] fundraising [apparatus]."
McCord is correct in suggesting that Warner -- or any of the other two Republican Senators he mentions in the article above -- could turn on the campaign rather quickly and probably raise $1 million or more in a quarter should they decide to run for reelection. But they are going to have to make that decision at some point. And in the absence of any change, it still appears likely that John Warner is about done with Washington and ready to move on with his life.
In other Senate news... The Nashville City Paper's blog takes a look at the rumors apparently flying around Tennessee that freshman Republican Senator Lamar Alexander won't be running for reelection this cycle and instead will potentially accept a position as president of Vanderbilt University. They stress "that does not mean Alexander has even mentioned it but that people at the school are talking his name up" -- but it's still something worth keeping an eye on.