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Newly released campaign finance reports by 2008 Senate candidates largely confirm what the pundits already have been saying: Very few of the races are fully formed yet.
Only in a quartet of states — Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire — are Republican and Democratic Senate candidates fully engaged and raising money at a steady clip. And even in New Hampshire, the leading potential Democratic candidate, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, remains on the sidelines for now.
Both parties are still searching for top-flight challengers in several states where they have at least a chance of running competitive races. And some of the races could well be formed by late-breaking retirements, which won’t come until later in the year or even in early 2008.
The fundraising reports, covering the period April 1 to June 30, may help to calm Senate Republican jitters about a wave of retirements. Several veteran GOP incumbents, including Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Pete Domenici (N.M.) and James Inhofe (Okla.) raised money at a fairly steady pace during the quarter, suggesting that rumors of their retirements may be overblown.
But the picture is less clear for Republicans in states such as Virginia and Idaho, where Sens. John Warner and Larry Craig, respectively, did not raise enough money to stave off retirement rumors.
Another potential Republican retiree, Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), raised almost $400,000 from April 1 to June 30. But his GOP primary challenger, state Attorney General Jon Bruning, raised $732,000, and other Republicans continue to sniff around that race.
The reports also contain good news for Democrats: Some of their potentially targeted incumbents such as Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Mary Landrieu (La.) had very solid fundraising quarters — with no top-tier challengers on the horizon.
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), sidelined by illness since December, pulled in more than $660,000 in the three-month period, aided largely by his colleagues.
Democrats also may be smelling opportunity in Texas, where wealthy trial attorney Mikal Watts has pledged to spend at least $10 million of his own money in a challenge to Sen. John Cornyn (R), who had banked more than $5 million as of June 30.
Bryce Bauer, Emma Dumain and Rob Silverblatt contributed to this report.