The campaign for Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth is downplaying low fundraising totals, saying it shouldn’t be viewed as a sign the Democratic representative isn’t running for re-election.
Federal Election Commission records show Yarmuth raised a mere $5,000 in the first three months of 2013, which is far behind his colleagues in the Kentucky congressional delegation.
According to campaign finance records, the second lowest fundraising total among House members was longtime Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, who raised approximately $59,000 in the first quarter.
The other delegates raised somewhere between $90 to $365,000 during the same period.
Democratic sources who work on political financing tell WFPL Yarmuth’s bleak numbers are a “signature of retirement” and observers note that is alarming low given how expensive House races can be.
“It is unusual there is no doubt about it,” says University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton. “And so to see a candidate who is an incumbent who has all the advantages, which usually means high name recognition that leads to the ability to raise funds.”
But Yarmuth campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Sawyer reiterated what the congressman told WFPL a few weeks ago, saying he is running for a fifth term next year.
“Louisvillians elected John Yarmuth to be a congressman, not to be a candidate,” she says. “And his priority right now is serving his community, doing the job that the people elected him to do just this past November.”
Sawyer points out the Yarmuth campaign has almost half a million dollars in cash-on-hand. But even those numbers show Yarmuth’s campaign coffers rank ahead of only fellow Congressmen Andy Barr and Thomas Massie, who are both freshman members.
“I’m not sure that this is a definitive sign that Yarmuth isn’t running, but it is just a little odd given politics requires so much money now…Yarmuth enjoys wide popularity in the district, and if he has just not been going on that front I think he could raise the money he needs. Not to mention he’s independently wealthy,” says Clayton.
The speculation isn’t far fetched when compared to how much time lawmakers have to spend raising campaign cash once they’re elected. For a growing number of lawmakers, such as retiring Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, fundraising is part of the reason to leave public office.
“After any election a member of Congress is following it with cash-on-hand. And I think that the congressman feels very comfortable with his,” says Sawyer. “Like I mentioned before, he has never had this much cash-on-hand at this point following a re-election so we feel very comfortable with that.”
Yarmuth won re-election last year by a landslide 30-point victory over Republican Brooks Wicker.