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Paltry Fundraising Sparks 2012 Questions

While operatives from both parties have been touting the second-quarter fundraising successes of many vulnerable incumbents, they were also poring over the new reports for clues.

The figures, filed late last week, offer glimpses into the political prowess of Members and their challengers. The reports distinguish the strong from the weak and allow political observers to peek inside campaigns of freshmen and veterans.

Longtime California Rep. David Dreier, a Republican who might be without a political home next year – thanks to redistricting – raised only $45,000 in the quarter.

The Los Angeles-area Congressman has more than $750,000 in the bank, but his relatively minuscule April-through-June receipts puts him among several candidates whose latest figures spurred questions about their political futures.

Three House Members – Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) – have already announced they will retire next year. Kildee, who announced just last week that he is not seeking another term, raised more in the last quarter than Dreier and several others on retirement watch.

Among retirement possibilities, Florida Rep. Bill Young (R), who will turn 82 next year, flew to the top of the list when he reported raising just $9,000 and ending June with $147,000 in the bank.

Others fitting that mold include 85-year-old Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), who raised $28,000 last quarter, 80-year-old Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), who raised $25,000, and 79-year-old Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who brought in $46,000.

Texas Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D), 70, raised $18,000 but had $403,000 in the bank. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), 74, raised $39,000 but had $314,000 in cash on hand.

After netting a gain of 63 seats last cycle, several Republican freshmen are under a microscope, though none more than Florida Rep. David Rivera. The Miami-area Congressman is under a state investigation regarding his personal and campaign finances. He raised just $35,000 last quarter and had just $62,000 in the bank.

Other GOP freshmen in potentially competitive districts who raised less than $150,000 are: Reps. Mike Kelly (Pa.), Tom Marino (Pa.), Daniel Webster (Fla.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Dan Benishek (Mich.) and Scott Tipton (Colo.).

Some – including Webster, who defeated former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) last cycle – could face rematches next year. Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) $169,000 quarter was topped by the $240,000 brought in by former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D), who is looking to win back her seat from Gosar.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) won easily in 2010 but brought in just $91,000 last quarter. Likewise, Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) won by 35 points last year but brought in just $41,000 and had $43,000 in the bank.

Some will be more vulnerable than others at this time next year, but the GOP freshman class won’t all be able to count on the National Republican Congressional Committee, which recently announced the first additions to its incumbent retention Patriot program. Democrats will be targeting many of them in pursuit of the 24 seats needed to take back the majority.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.), who won in 2010 by just 3,000 votes, raised $73,000 and had $58,000 on hand. He’s not known as the strongest fundraiser, but Costa might move onto retirement watch lists, especially with his district likely getting more competitive.

Across the country, another Democrat in similar circumstances is North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller, who raised $94,000 last quarter and had just $127,000 in the bank. He’s one of four Democrats in the state whose newly shaped districts will put them in further political danger.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who is reportedly under consideration for a job at the University of Tennessee, raised $176,000, and Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) raised $136,000. Both are high on the GOP’s 2012 target list.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) turned in one of the lowest quarters nationwide. He raised just $34,000 and had $185,000 in the bank. Yarmuth, who entered Congress during the 2006 Democratic wave, won by more than 10 points last cycle.

“He’s definitely running again. As you may know, there’s a governor’s race in our state this year, so a lot of local fundraising was put on hold because of that,” Yarmuth spokesman Trey Pollard told Roll Call. “But going into the future, I think he’s pretty confident he’ll be able to have the resources he needs to run.”

Freshman Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), who won an open seat last year by fewer than 5 points, raised $90,000 and had just $129,000 in the bank. Massachusetts legislators are currently agonizing over their decision about which seat to eliminate as a result of reapportionment. As the newest Member, Keating is a possible target.

Another Member affected by redistricting is Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.), whose district will be far more competitive than it was last cycle. Johnson raised $125,000 and had $284,000 in the bank.

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