Cornyn’s reelection war chest grows to $14.5 million

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s comments drew swift criticism from the two Democrats competing to challenge him in November, MJ Hegar and Royce West. Photo credit: Allison Shelley for The Texas Tribune

By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has $14.5 million saved up for his reelection bid after raising $3.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, his campaign announced Monday.

The figures come a day before a Democratic primary runoff will settle who faces Cornyn in November: MJ Hegar, the Air Force veteran backed by national Democrats, or Royce West, the longtime state senator from Dallas.

Cornyn has regularly stayed ahead of his Democratic challengers in the money race as they have had to focus on their protracted nominating process. On their pre-runoff campaign finance reports — covering all but the last several days of the second quarter — Hegar reported raising $1.6 million and having $1.6 million cash on hand, while West said he took in $430,000 and had $160,000 in reserves.

Cornyn’s second-quarter haul was his best yet this election cycle, topping the $3.2 million he netted in the third quarter of last year. Cornyn’s campaign said that over $2 million of the $3.5 million he received in the second quarter came from small-dollar donors, or people giving $200 or less.

“Senator Cornyn will continue to fight for the principles that make Texas the economic engine of America, and send national Democrats a strong message about the future of our state,” Cornyn campaign manager John Jackson said in a statement on the senator’s latest fundraising numbers.

Cornyn faces a Wednesday deadline to disclose his full second-quarter finances to the Federal Election Commission. The Democratic candidates also have a deadline Wednesday, though because they already had to file their pre-runoff reports, they will only have to submit a report covering the last six days of June.

Hegar filed that report early on Friday evening, showing she raised $166,000 and spent $879,000 during the short window of time. She had $902,000 cash on hand as of June 30.

Hegar’s large expense total for the six-day period was largely due to her media spending, which tallied at least $660,000. The Hegar campaign has been on TV statewide ahead of the runoff, with coordinated financial support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Another pro-Hegar group, EMILY’s List, is spending well over $1 million on TV and digital ads for Hegar in the runoff’s closing days.

The West campaign has also aired TV ads in recent days, though its buys are much smaller.