April 30, 2020
Cornyn and Texas Democrats in Runoff No Match for Beto
in U.S. Senate Fundraising that Shows Early Virus Effects
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
|U.S. Senate Fundraising
Donations Feb 13-March 31
Total Donations & Loans
|John Cornyn (R-Inc)
Feb 13-March: $1,437,698
Total Donations: $12,580,324
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $12,885,496
|MJ Hegar (D)
Feb 13-March: $875,946
Total Donations: $4,406,030
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $1,095,647
|Royce West (D)
Feb 13-March: $187,074
Total Donations: $1,108,148
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $120,824
A pair of Texas Democrats who are competing for the U.S. Senate nomination in a summer runoff election raised less than 27 cents in the first three months of 2020 for every dollar that Beto O'Rourke raked in during the same time span in a bid here for the upper house of Congress.
But U.S. Senator John Cornyn generated one-third as much during the first quarter of the current election as O'Rourke had in the same period in 2018 as the Democratic nominee in a battle with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz that the challenger ended up losing by less than 3 points.
With campaign fundraising efforts crippled by the coronavirus since the primary vote almost two months ago, Democratic Senate contender MJ Hegar expanded her advantage in the cash chase over State Senator Royce West with contributions of almost $876,000 during a six-week stretch that ended March 31.
Hegar - a Round Rock resident who led a pack of 12 Democrats with 22 percent of the initial vote in March - pushed her total take for the U.S. Senate competition to more than $4.4 million with the report that she filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
West, who's represented the Dallas area in the Legislature's upper chamber since 1993, reported donations of $187,000 between mid-February and the end of March for a U.S. Senate campaign that's rounded up more than $1.1 million from supporters since he launched it last fall.
Cornyn didn't appear to be hampered significantly by the COVID-19 outbreak with contributions of more than $1.4 million during the six-week stretch that he ended on March 31 with almost $13 million in cash reserves after an easy primary win in a field of token foes. Cornyn raised more than $2.2 million during the opening quarter of 2020 two years after Cruz had generated less than $2.1 million from supporters in the first three months of the last election cycle.
Hegar and West reported donations of $1.8 million combined in the first quarter. But Hegar entered April with almost 10 times more cash on hand with nearly $1.1 million in reserve compared to a West campaign cash balance of less than $120,000. West advanced to the runoff with less than 15 percent of the Super Tuesday election that was held three days before the first coronavirus cases were reported in Texas.
Hegar and West will square off in the primary runoff election that Governor Greg Abbott rescheduled for July 14 after determining that it wouldn't be safe to conduct the overtime vote on the original date of May 26. The delay will buy time for candidates like West to play catch-up in the cash competition that's become much more of a challenge with large gatherings like fundraisers prohibited in Texas and Washington D.C. and most of the other states in the U.S.
Cornyn had raised almost $13 million by the end of last month for a re-election race that he's running in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty in a nation where more than 1 million virus cases have been confirmed including nearly 62,000 that have ended in death. Texas has had more than 27,000 positive COVID-19 tests with 759 deaths by early afternoon on Thursday.
The restrictions that Abbott has had in place have prompted candidates to depend almost exclusively on money they are able to raise online or through telephone or mail solicitations.
O'Rourke had no excuses and needed none with a record-shattering fundraising quest in 2018 when he'd been a U.S. House member and prohibitive underdog in the early stages of a bid to unseat Cruz.
O'Rourke had raised more than $13 million during the first 15 months of the last cycle - slightly more than Cornyn has generated during the same amount of time as an 18-year U.S. Senate veteran who'd served as the Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court before he won his current post. O'Rourke rounded up more than 6.7 million in the first three months of 2018 - three times the amounts that Cruz and Cornyn raised as incumbents in the first quarters of the current cycle and the last election season.