By Peter Savodnik - 10/18/05 12:00 AM EDT
A sprinkling of longtime House members sharply scaled back their fundraising in the third quarter of the year.
The lower-than-expected campaign figures raise questions about whether these members will seek another term and, if not, whether their exit would lead to hotly contested open seats.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), in his 12th term, raised $17,120 in the third quarter, bringing his cash on hand to more than $166,000. During the same period in the last campaign cycle, Boehlert brought in just under $130,000; his cash on hand was nearly $408,000.
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), in his ninth term, took in $58,500 and ended the quarter with $59,000 on hand. By contrast, he reeled in almost twice that — $105,555 — during the same three-month period in 2003, concluding with $287,000 in the bank.
Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), meanwhile, raised $18,460 in the third quarter, bringing his cash on hand to nearly $55,000. During the same period in the last campaign cycle, Farr brought in just under $60,000 and ended with more than $77,000 in the bank.
Fellow Californian Rep. Pete Stark (D), in his 17th term, garnered $28,600 from July 1 through Sept. 30 of this year; his cash on hand is $381,000. At the same point last cycle, Stark had raised more than $41,000 and had more than $444,000 put away for his campaign.
Explaining his boss’s campaign figures, Boehlert’s communications director, Sam Marchio, said the congressman’s big fundraiser of the season — a baseball-themed event known as Fall Ball — took place Oct. 4, four days after the third-quarter filing deadline.
Similarly, Stark held a fundraiser near the end of the quarter. One of his aides noted that “the checks are still coming in,” adding that Stark would “absolutely” seek reelection.
Spokeswomen for Farr and Price said the congressmen would be running for an eighth and 10th term, respectively.
Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), meanwhile, raised less in the past quarter than he did during the same quarter in 2003 — $5,000 versus $14,000 — but wound up with the same cash on hand: $87,300.
Kim Sears, a spokeswoman for Hefley, who has been at odds with the GOP House leadership over his leadership of the ethics committee in the last Congress, said the legislator simply dislikes raising campaign cash.
“As of right now, he still intends to run again,” Sears said. Hefley is in his 10th term; he won his last race with 71 percent of the vote.
And Rep. William Jenkins (R-S.C.) raised $9,800 in the past quarter, compared to $29,250 during the same quarter in 2003. But he ended the recent fundraising period with $217,000 in the bank versus only $193,000 in 2003.
While the differences separating 2003 and 2005 tend to be small in the bigger scheme of things — Hefley, for instance, spent more than $93,000 last cycle to get reelected — they are significant in that many, if not most, members of Congress maintain their fundraising pace or increase it. Also, some members may have raised less this period than they did in the same period in 2003, but they still have considerable campaign funds on hand — for example, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
Even many members in safe seats with long winning records aggressively sought campaign cash in the past cycle: Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) raised $153,000 (versus $110,000 in 2003); Rep. Ike Skelton (R-Mo.) raised $132,000 (versus $29,000 in 2003); and Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) raised $137,000 (versus $81,000 in 2003).
Democrats contend the open-seat map works to their advantage: The four Democratic House members who are retiring to run for the Senate come from solidly Democratic seats, while the two Republicans running for the Senate — Reps. Katherine Harris (Fla.) and Mark Kennedy (Minn.) — represent more competitive districts, they say.
Also, seven of the nine House members leaving Congress to run for governor are Republicans. While Democrats contend most of those seats are in play, only one of them — that held by Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) — has been seriously contested in recent years.
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has countered that the number of toss-up seats is too small for Democrats to increase their share in the House.
Mandy Kozar contributed to this report.