SACRAMENTO, California — In 2016, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will be up for re-election for the fifth time. California’s junior Senator was first elected in 1992, in a close race that she won by just under 5% of the vote. In all of her elections since, Boxer has handily dispatched her GOP opponents. Yet Boxer has an anemic $148,777 in campaign cash, according to her most recent filing with the Federal Elections Commission. That is fueling rumors–especially after Tuesday’s Republican takeover–that Boxer may soon retire.
Boxer, who would be 75 years old when being sworn into a 5th term, has made no formal announcement of her plans. But it is not uncommon, when a Senator dramatically slows the pace of his or her fundraising, that retirement becomes a serious consideration. This would especially be the case for a Senator who represents a state in which television advertising is more expensive than anywhere else in the nation.
On Thursday, at a post-election symposium in Sacramento hosted by Capitol Weekly, Boxer’s political consultant, Rose Kapolczynski, was asked about Boxer’s low fundraising totals. She dismissed the possibility Boxer would seek re-election. She said that the Senator has not made any decision about retiring, and went on to say that she did not need to raise money because Republicans have no bench in California.
Nevertheless, in the absence of Boxer making affirmative strides towards a re-election effort, speculation can be expected to grow in political circles. There is no shortage of eager Democrats who would be anxious to vie for her seat, knowing that even an open Senate seat would be an uphill battle for a Republican opponent.
At the top of the list of ersatz Senators are Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, both recently re-elected statewide. Of course, the biggest wild card could be California’s most popular Democratic officeholder, Governor Jerry Brown himself, who could probably walk into the Senate seat with very little competition. That said, the more prevalent rumors swirling around about Jerry Brown’s future involve a potential Presidential bid, challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination.
The Republican bench is small, but potential candidates include several members of Congress, including Darrell Issa, Kevin McCarthy, or Ed Royce. Former Insurance Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner and popular San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer would be formidable candidates as well.
Boxer’s fundraising efforts were lackluster before Tuesday’s election, and the massive gains by Republicans in the Senate. Having served in the majority for many years, Boxer will likely be finishing up her current term in the minority party, with her party needing to pick up many seats in 2016 to regain the majority.