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February 13, 2013 05:53 PM

Campaign Funds Add To Johnson Retirement Speculation

Washington, DC

In his fourth State of the Union, President Barack Obama laid out dozens of proposals to Congress, but he said a stronger middle class is priority number one.

"[He's] reaching out to the middle class and the public instead of speaking to the Democrats and Republicans in the chamber," U.S. Senator Tim Johnson said.

Johnson hopes this talk leads to a bi-partisan future for America. As for his own future, the talk has been, "will he or won't he," retire.

Several national political news sources and lower fundraising totals have started retirement buzz about South Dakota's lone Democrat in congress. Bloomberg.com, Huffington Post and Politco have all suggested Johnson may not run against former Republican Governor Mike Rounds in 2014. And his son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

"One telling aspect he might be is he simply hasn't confirmed it. If he was going to run, why not just tell us?" Augustana Political Science Professor Emily Wanless said.

According to his campaign spending report, Johnson raised $106,816 at the end of the year and spent $92,939. Though he raised less than previous quarters, Johnson said he has more than enough money in his account for a strong campaign. 

"I have $1.2 million to spare. That isn't bad," Johnson said. "It's true the fourth quarter was a hard quarter.  With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, it's always hard raising money," Johnson said.

Washington, D.C. political analyst for The Cook Political Report Jennifer Duffy said his funds are not a huge red flag because a Senate campaign does not cost a lot, relatively speaking, in South Dakota. She compared Johnson's funds to democratic Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey. The 89-year-old also faces retirement rumors. His fourth quarter fundraising efforts total a little more than $11,000. 

"Clearly they've [Johnson] put some effort in this," Duffy said. "It does not tell us if he is running. It does not tell us if he is not running.  It does not tell us anything."

But Wanless said his low fundraising efforts are unusual and could be a telling sign, especially considering his Republican challenger Rounds.

"Usually, you want to posture with building up your war chest, to fend off someone, to intimidate opponents. Given the fact he has a strong challenger, I would think he'd be really focused on fundraising," Wanless said.

Johnson, who has not announced anything, said his answer is coming soon.

"I feel great. That's not a problem. I'll decide this spring. Maybe March and get it over with," Johnson said.

  • Politics
  • US Senate
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