As Senate Democrats sweat midterms, some colleagues hoard cash

In this file photo, Sen. Charles Schumer D-New York, speaks as Sen. Tom Harkin D-Iowa, right, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

With midterm elections just over a week away, a number of Senate Democrats are sweating it out in close races across the country. But if they thought their colleagues would spare no expense to save the Democratic majority, they might want to think again.

All told, Senate Democrats who are either retiring, already retired, or not facing competitive elections this year have socked away roughly $52 million in campaign funds, according to the Huffington Post, and their refusal to distribute that money to their vulnerable compatriots is raising hackles in the party.

"We all get multiple daily desperate emails begging for money, especially as Democrats are on the verge of losing the Senate," one top strategist told HuffPost. "Meanwhile, some senators are sitting on millions."

Several senators have come under particularly intense scrutiny for their hoarding. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, holds almost $2.4 million in his campaign account even though he's retiring and his would-be successor, Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, is struggling.

Harkin reportedly refused to give Braley any additional money despite the personal pleas of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. Instead, the retiring senator is keeping his cash to build a public policy center after he leaves office.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the number three Senate Democrat, is sitting on $12.8 million, but he will not be up for reelection until 2016. Though Schumer is not expected to face a competitive opponent, New York can be a very expensive state for campaigns.

And former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, has been out of office for almost 4 years, but he still has $9.8 million in his campaign coffers. Bayh told the Huffington Post that he'd transferred about $1.5 million to other Democrats in recent years, but he acknowledged that part of his decision to retain such a large sum is political.

"I'm in my 50s. Most of the other people [holding on to cash] are in their early 70s," he said. "So I don't know what the future might hold. I don't think it makes a lot of sense closing doors."

Intra-party wrangling over campaign money is a feature of every election cycle, but the issue is particularly notable this year due to the sheer sum of money kept off the field and the forbidding environment many Democrats are facing.

Almost a dozen Senate races across the country are considered competitive - more than enough to tilt the chamber's balance of power in the next Congress - and Democrats are playing defense in the majority of those races. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to seize the majority.