McHugh’s War Chest Will Stay Put

ALBANY—At least for now, former-Representative John McHugh’s war chest will sit idle.

The Republican North Country congressman resigned from the seat last month to become Secretary of the Army under Barack Obama. According to the most recent quarterly filing, McHugh has $142,063 on hand.

“The Committee will be inactive except for administrative expenses related to bookkeeping and reporting.,” Lisa Lisker, the campaign treasurer, wrote in an e-mail. “Quarterly reports will continue to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.”

Activity has already slowed. In the last quarter, McHugh’s campaign spending was administrative except for refunding a $3,000 to the John Deere PAC. He received only one $500 contribution from John Simmons.

Typically, federal candidates leaving office (most are assuming that McHugh, who just turned 61, will not seek another elected office when his gig as Army Secretary is up) distribute their campaign funds to charities or candidate committees. Large transfers are often given to national or state party committees, because there is no expenditure limit.

Not so McHugh. He’s in an awkward place serving as a Republican in a Democratic administration, and some lawyers said there might be ethical constraints governing his expenditures as an administration official.

Republicans could certainly use that money. There’s a three-way race underway to replace McHugh, and Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee, has had a lot of trouble raising money. (Official numbers will be filed Thursday.) The Republican National Committee has had to commit its own resources to the race.

Still, all signs point to Republicans–facing attacks on both the left and right–will be outspent significantly.