Rep. Kildee on 2012: 'I definitely plan to run'

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) pushed aside retirement speculation Tuesday, saying he fully intends to seek a 19th term in 2012. 

"I definitely plan to run," Kildee told The Ballot Box, brushing off his slow fundraising start and low cash-on-hand number. 

The 81-year-old Democrat raised nothing between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31, according to his year-end fundraising report, and began the year with just $12,000 cash on hand. It led to some speculation that he might opt for retirement ahead of 2012.   

"I usually don't start raising money until March, so that doesn't mean anything," said Kildee, who added that he's in the process of ramping up his fundraising and campaign operation. 

Aside from Kildee's long tenure in the House, the possibility that his district could become more competitive thanks to redistricting added to the early speculation that could decide against another run next year. 

"No way," said Kildee when asked if redistricting or other factors might change his mind before 2012. "They'll have to carry me out of here."