Fundraising reports covering the fourth quarter of 2022 were recently due at the FEC, offering us some clues about which Senate incumbents are raising the kinds of money that signal that they plan to run for re-election and which ones aren’t. We've gathered all that data in a new chart, along with figures for five members of the House who've already announced Senate bids. (Note that for this quintet, the reporting period ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31; because the lower chamber was up for election last year, House candidates filed multiple reports during the quarter.)
However, a weak haul hardly guarantees retirement: Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson hauled in just $130,000 in the final months of 2020, but while he kept everyone guessing about his re-election plans for another year, he ultimately decided to run again and went on to claim a third term.
Most of the chatter about potential departures so far has concerned the Democrats’ two most vulnerable senators, Montana’s Jon Tester, who'd be seeking a fourth term, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who'd be looking for a third. Tester took in $470,000 for the quarter compared to $160,000 for Manchin, which includes a five-week period when they were competing for dollars with candidates who were actually on the ballot last year.
During the same timeframe six years ago, both raised much less: Tester about $240,000 and Manchin less than $60,000. The cash picture is even more starkly different. At the end of 2016, Tester had $1.6 million in the bank compared to $2.9 million now; Manchin, meanwhile, was sitting on $1.7 million but now enjoys a far vaster $9.5 million hoard. Optimistic Democrats (should such creatures exist) might therefore read these particular tea leaves positively.
Below we’ll take a look at what other senators, as well as their possible successors, have available:
• CA-Sen: Almost everyone in California politics was already assuming Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein would retire even before they learned she finished December with less than $10,000 on-hand, and while the incumbent says she won’t reveal her plans until the spring, almost all of the chatter has turned to the race to succeed her.
Two House Democrats, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, announced they were running in January, while their colleagues Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna may also join in. Schiff ended last year with a $20.9 million to $7.4 million cash-on-hand lead over Porter, who won a tight re-election fight in November. Lee, who reportedly has told people she’ll run, had just over $50,000 available, though the longtime progressive favorite is betting she’d be able to quickly haul in far more.
Khanna, meanwhile, had $5.3 million to spend, though it's not clear whether he'd use it against Lee. The congressman told CBS Thursday that he’d “most likely” defer to her, though in classic Khanna fashion, he's still trying to have it both ways. “There have not been many Asian Americans in the United States Senate, so that is on the mind of a lot of leaders that have asked me to look at the race,” said Khanna, who added that his decision would come by early April.
• DE-Sen: Sen. Tom Carper finished the year with about $560,000 banked as the 76-year-old Democrat mulls whether to run for a fifth term. Carper, who raised $180,000 for the quarter, told Politico he was “doing what I need to do to be able to run,” though he didn’t say when he expected to decide. The incumbent raised only $50,000 and had less than a quarter-million in his campaign kitty in the final quarter of 2016.
• MD-Sen: Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin had $1 million saved up, though observers noted he’d raised only $29,000 of that during the final three months of the year. Cardin, who is 79 and has served three terms, told Politico he would stick with his plans to make up his mind about his future by the end of March; he also addressed potential successors who were raising money in case he retired by joking, “If they raise money now, they can turn it over to me, can’t they?” Cardin also had a slow finish to 2016, bringing in just $40,000 and ending with $700,000 in the bank.
• ME-Sen: Sen. Angus King outright tells Politico he’s seeking a third term, though the story notes that not everyone is convinced. The Democratic-aligned independent had just over $310,000 on hand after bringing in $60,000 for the quarter, but he said of his skeptics, “I could be struck by lightning. But I am running.” In the quarter before his first re-election campaign six years ago, King took in about $110,000 but had a much smaller $130,000 in his war chest.