Pressure -- both on the record and off -- continues to grow for Sen. Jim Bunning to announce that he will not seek another term.
Politico ran a big piece that considered the slim odds that Bunning could prevail. In particular, it noted that he has only raised $175,000. That's not even enough to run for a local judgeship, let alone U.S. Senator. What's worse, he has no fundraisers planned until April. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell spent $21 million to defend his seat this past November.
Despite Bunning's insistence that he will run, and though this is not a great job market for Republican operatives, not a single member of McConnell's campaign has signed on to work for Bunning. Bunning's lack of fundraising makes his campaign look like a pro bono adventure with no likelihood of success.
Politico speculates that Trey Greyson or Cathy Bailey might run. Either would stand a much better chance of election than Bunning, and the point, after all, is to win. More is at stake than Bunning's career: the country and the Republican caucus need his seat to stay Republican to maintain a check on Democrats who are close to a filibuster-proof supermajority.
Bunning's colleagues in private urge him not to run and in public damn him with faint praise:
Asked if Bunning was the best candidate to run or if there were better GOP candidates, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas demurred: “I don’t know. I think it’s really up to Sen. Bunning.”
Here's Bunning's response:
Bunning’s office declined to comment on reports he’s being urged to retire.
“It’s a free country,” Bunning said in a statement. “Anybody can run for anything they choose. I am gearing up, and I look forward to the challenge of taking on whoever comes out of the Democrat primary in May of 2010.”
Note Bunning's implicit assumption that he will have the privilege of facing the Democratic nominee. To be sure, Bunning is correct that "it's a free country" and that he can run for anything he chooses. So can Cathy Bailey and Trey Grayson.