Menino's Withered War Chest

 Mayor Tom Menino ended 2012 with roughly $650,000 in his campaign account. (That's from the unofficial twice-monthly bank statement; the official campaign year-end report comes later but should not be substantially different, because --unless I'm mistaken -- he does not have any additional savings accounts at this time.)

That's way, way less than the $1.4 million he had at the close of 2008, as he prepared to defend his crown from the anticipated challenges from Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon. In that cycle, Menino went on to raise another $1.5 million in the election year, and spent around $2.5 million on the campaign.

Obviously, Menino's recent health problems have prevented him from fundraising the way he has in the past. In the final two months of '08, his campaign committee deposited more than a quarter-million dollars of donations; in the last two months of '12, the figure was just $65,000.

Beyond that, you can read into it what you'd like. Maybe it means he's not planning to run again. Maybe it means he thinks nobody significant will challenge him. Maybe it means he doesn't think he needs as much money as he previously thought to run a full-scale re-election campaign. Maybe it means he's well behind where he wants to be, and could have trouble if somebody does take him on.

Or, maybe it means nothing at all.

What I do know is that raising substantial sums of money for a campaign in Boston -- with the ridiculous $500 calendar-year contribution cap -- is a major undertaking for anybody, even Menino. So, if he is running again, and he does get a real challenger, and he does need to raise well over a million bucks in 2013 -- in addition to campaigning and running the city -- he can't afford to wait around very long to get into high gear.

I also know that Menino with $650,000 in the bank is a lot less likely to scare off challengers than $1.4 million.

If there are any. Which is a big if.

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