John Cornyn Maintains Wide Fundraising Lead in U.S. Senate Race, Followed by MJ Hegar, Royce West

According to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had $12.9 million cash on hand at the end of March, a wide lead ahead of Democratic candidate MJ Hegar’s reported $1.1 million.

State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) trails far behind with about $121,000 on hand.

The total amount each campaign raised during the first quarter of 2020 follows the same order: Cornyn raised $2.7 million, Hegar raised $1.6 million, and West raised $407,000.

In the sharply contested election on Super Tuesday, no Democratic candidate managed to succeed in securing even a quarter of the vote, though Hegar proved to be the frontrunner with 22 percent. West narrowly made it into the runoff with 15 percent of the vote.

That competitiveness translated to an increase in spending in the primary.

For instance, while Cornyn still spent more than West in the period between February 12 and March 31, the latter spent a far greater percentage of his total raised thus far.

Where West spent almost one-third of his total raised, Cornyn spent about one-thirtieth — $415,000 out of $1.4 million, and $650,000 out of $19 million, respectively.

If the runoff between Hegar and West continues to be highly competitive, it works to the advantage of Cornyn — especially now that the runoff election has been postponed a month and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic may have also caused the campaigns to raise less than they might have had the “Great Lockdown” not taken place.

West told The Texan that as a result of the crisis, three-fourths of his attention has been shifted away from his campaign and onto his responsibilities as an elected official, and Cornyn’s campaign also said that they had only resumed online fundraising to a small degree after Congress passed the three relief bills. 

Another contributing factor is outside spending. Many political action committees (PACs) can campaign in favor of a candidate and make independent expenditures without the candidate being required to record that amount on their own report.

For instance, the Brady PAC, which has pledged to place their “full weight” behind Hegar’s candidacy, could run advertisements in support of her without that amount being reflected in the total her campaign raises. 

The runoff election that will decide which of the two Democrats will face off against Cornyn is currently scheduled for July 14.

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