Stopping veteran Dem retirements in 2014 is top priority for Reid, Schumer

Stopping veteran Dem retirements in 2014 is top priority for Reid, Schumer

One of the highest immediate political priorities for Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Democratic political guru Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (N.Y.) is to persuade veteran colleagues not to retire in 2014.

Democratic sources identify four senators as most likely to retire: Sens. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinDemocrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood The Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday MORE (D-Iowa).

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Another possible veteran retirement is Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinCongress: The sleeping watchdog Congress must not give companies tax reasons to move jobs overseas A lesson on abuse of power by Obama and his Senate allies MORE (D-Mich.), who has yet to announce his decision. But Democratic aides expect him to run again.

Democrats would have a tough time defending their seats in West Virginia and South Dakota without incumbents running. Iowa, a blue-leaning state that gave President Obama a six-point victory over Mitt Romney, is a competitive race that slightly favors Democrats and New Jersey is a safe bet to stay in their column.  Michigan resembles Iowa in that it leans Democratic but a strong Republican candidate could capture the seat if Levin leaves.

Rockefeller is seen as the most likely to step down from the Senate at the end of 2014. He reported only $704,000 in his campaign account at the end of September and a high-profile break with the coal industry — a powerful player in West Virginia — was interpreted as a sign he would not run.

Rockefeller urged coal companies to “face reality” and stop using scare tactics to oppose federal regulations, a stark contrast to Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE’s (D-W.Va.) stance toward the administration. Manchin won re-election easily this year by campaigning against its environmental policies.

One Democratic source with ties to the Senate leadership said Rockefeller “has been making noises like he’s thinking of retiring” and has done little fundraising.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, faces a tough race against former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, who has launched an exploratory committee for a Senate run.

Johnson is still coping with the debilitating effects of a brain hemorrhage he suffered in 2006 and needs a motorized wheelchair to get around the Senate. While Johnson’s speech is slurred, colleagues and aides say his mind is sharp.

He has served as chairman of the Banking panel for only two years and appears to relish the job. Winning re-election would give him more time to leave his mark on the committee.

Johnson has yet to announce his decision but a lobbyist with strong ties to Senate Democrats predicted he would run for a fourth term.

He reported $1.2 million in his campaign war chest at the end of September. 

Lautenberg reported only $203,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, a red flag in one of the most expensive media markets in the country. He will be 90 years old on Election Day, which is the main reason why Senate observers think he will step down.

Caley Gray, Lautenberg’s spokesman, dismissed the retirement rumors.

“Senator Lautenberg has a lot of work to do in the Senate rebuilding New Jersey after Sandy struck and retirement is the last thing on his mind,” he said. 

Lautenberg has already secured an endorsement from Schumer for 2014.

Some Democrats would like to see Newark Mayor Cory Booker fill the seat but Lautenberg may not give it up without a fight. He criticized Booker in May for undermining Obama’s re-election effort after Booker said the president’s campaign should drop efforts to vilify Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital.

Harkin reported $2.7 million in cash on hand at the end of September but a source close to the senator said he still has not made up his mind about whether to run again.

Harkin has held fundraising events in recent months, however, signaling to allies he is preparing for another race.

Levin is expected to announce his decision at the beginning of next year but he has not yet said for certain that he will bid for a seventh term.

He reported only $286,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, prompting speculation that he is mulling retirement. Levin’s small war chest, however, is in line with what he reported at similar points in previous election cycles. He tends to raise little money when not in cycle.

The next election cycle poses a threat to Reid’s tenure as majority leader because Democrats have to defend 20 seats while Republicans have 13 up for re-election. He expanded his majority to a comfortable margin of 55 to 45 in the upper chamber, counting two independents caucusing with the Democrats.  But a slew of Democrats face tough races in conservative leaning states: such as Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE in Alaska, Kay HaganKay HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE in North Carolina, Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE in Arkansas and Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE in Louisiana.

Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (D-Minn.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress The Hill Interview: GOP chairman says ‘red flags’ surround Russian cyber firm Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ MORE (D-N.H.) won with 42 percent and 52 percent of the vote, respectively, in 2008 and could also have competitive contests.

Incumbency proved a powerful defense in 2012 as only one incumbent lost: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who kept his race close despite running in a state with an overwhelming Democratic voter-registration advantage. Republicans lost another seat because of the surprise retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

Democrats lost their only seat in Nebraska, where Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) retired. An internal poll Nelson conducted at the end of 2011, however, showed he had a strong chance of winning had he decided to stay in the Senate.