When Campaign Cash Is Left Unspent

When Campaign Cash Is Left Unspent

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Indiana Senator Evan Bayh speaks with host Jon Stewart of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart on Comedy Central

Senator Evan Bayh, heading into the final week before the midterm elections, has $10.3 million in his campaign treasury. That's an impressive war chest, but Bayh isn't running this year. In fact, he announced his retirement from the Senate in February. Nor is Bayh the only politician sitting on a large pile of green. Republicans and Democrats in both chambers have millions of dollars they're not using, money that needier candidates are eyeing jealously as the finish line approaches and ad budgets run dry.

Some of the money will go to finance bids for higher office — Bayh is expected to run in Indiana, perhaps for another turn as governor. Leaders of both parties save cash to help "encourage" junior members to cast tough votes. Republican whip Eric Cantor has $1.5 million, and his lieutenants Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy have $2.8 million and $1.1 million, respectively. Majority leader Steny Hoyer has $1.7 million in the bank; Democratic whip Jim Clyburn has $1.3 million. (By contrast, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has only $140,000 left.) And some money — at least on the Republican side, where gavels aren't given by seniority — will go to financing intraparty races for key chairmanships after the election.

Departing pols like Bayh can't just pocket their leftover cash; they must use it for campaigns or donate it to other candidates, parties or charities. So if Bayh is uncertain about his final plans for all that dough, several dozen Democrats would be grateful for his help in the meantime.