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Low Fundraising Hauls Hint at House Retirements

Peterson has a new opponent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Peterson has a new opponent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Recently filed fundraising reports give some clues this week about which House members are gearing up for re-election fights — and who might be ready to call it quits after this term.

Small hauls are often the first indication a member is preparing to leave Capitol Hill. Members are not motivated to raise big bucks if they know they won’t need a war chest for another electoral battle.

A CQ Roll Call review of second-quarter House fundraising reports, which were due Monday, showed several longtime House members posting meager sums.

Earlier this year, Republicans publicly encouraged Peterson to retire because they view his 7th District seat as competitive if he’s gone. But Peterson told a Minnesota news outlet in June that the GOP’s efforts have actually fueled his desire to run again in 2014. Still, he raised $60,000 less in the second quarter than in the first, giving more credence to the retirement rumors.

For the second quarter in a row, 67-year-old Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., raised less than $5,000, fueling speculation he may retire if the Senate does not confirm him to a top administration post at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The 11-term Democrat has had a rocky confirmation process over the past few months, and he only raised $2,300 in the second quarter.

GOP Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida, 82, is a perennial member on CQ Roll Call’s retirement watch list. He brought in $86,000 in the second quarter — much less than what his Democratic challenger, Jessica Ehrlich, raised. For any other member, the sub-six-figure total would signal that a 22-term member is ready to call it quits. But Young has defied this wisdom many, many cycles before.

Additionally, 82-year-old Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., raised just $4,000 for the second quarter in a row. His small haul will keep him on CQ Roll Call’s retirement watch list for another quarter. It’s worth noting that Coble was admitted to a hospital for “severe dizziness” in February, after which he told a local media outlet that he plans to run again. But he also left the door open to retirement if his health prevented him from running again.

Four-term Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., 59, raised just $31,000 in the second quarter. Lamborn is considered a lock in the heavily Republican 5th District, but it’s still rare for an incumbent member to raise less than six figures in a quarter.

Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Mass., 61, an eight-term Democrat from the 7th District, raised $54,000 in the second quarter. Local Democrats say Capuano is considering a gubernatorial bid in 2014, which, paired with his low fundraising, puts the congressman on the retirement watch list.

Three longtime House members who showed paltry fundraising earlier this year — and made CQ Roll Call’s retirement watch list then — have more than doubled their numbers in the second quarter.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., raised a small sum in the first part of this year, leading many California Republicans to question whether he will come back for another term. But the 74-year-old has denied the retirement rumors, and he doubled his fundraising haul from the first quarter, raising $140,000 from April through June.

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, who at 90 is the oldest serving House member, raised just $15,000 in the first quarter. He’s since told local media outlets he is running again and brought in more than eight times that amount, $130,000, in the second quarter.

Similarly, New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel, 83, also dramatically increased his fundraising pace in the second quarter. The Democrat brought in $166,000 in the second quarter — up from $35,000 raised during the first three months of the year.

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

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