Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby has raised no money at all from individuals or PACs for his personal campaign account since he won his last election in 2016, which could fuel speculation that the 85-year-old is serving his last term.
Shelby’s campaign account still holds the nearly $10 million that was left unspent after he won his sixth term by nearly 30 points.
It’s not unusual for senators to ease up on fundraising during the first few years of their six-year terms — Shelby isn’t up for reelection until 2022.
But it is unusual no raise no money at all: The only other senator who fits that description is Kansas Republican Pat Roberts, who announced in January he would retire after 2020. Disclosures to the Federal Election Commission show that so far in 2019, the average senator had total receipts of more than $1 million, and 17 of them had $2 million or more.
Shelby’s campaign has disclosed some income since 2017, but the nearly $29,000 represented interest from several banks.
Some Alabama GOP operatives already expect this to be his last term in the Senate, but Shelby isn’t saying yet whether he’s thinking about retirement.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said Thursday when asked if he would run for reelection. “Right now, I’m enjoying my sixth term.”
The longtime senator dismissed a question about his fundraising, telling reporters, “I haven’t raised any money in four or five years for myself. I raise money for my PAC. I don’t need any money. I’ve got $10 million in my campaign.”
Shelby’s leadership PAC, “Defend America,” has raised $361,000 this year and had $5.8 million on hand on June 30. The group has so far given the maximum allowable $10,000 to 15 GOP senators up for reelection in 2020.
Shelby has not donated to any of the Republicans competing in next year’s Alabama primary to take on the state’s junior senator, Democrat Doug Jones, who won in a special election in 2017 and is running for a full term. He did give $5,000 to the Alabama state GOP, however.
Jones is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle given Alabama’s partisan lean. President Donald Trump won the state by 28 points in 2016, and Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Jones’ reelection race Leans Republican.
David Lerman contributed to this report. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.