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Texas 2020 Elections

MJ Hegar far outpaces Royce West in U.S. Senate fundraising, but both are far behind John Cornyn

The Texans' campaigns are announcing their latest fundraising numbers ahead of an end-of-day deadline to disclose them to the Federal Election Commission.

From left, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate MJ Hegar and State Senator Royce West.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, raised $2.7 million over the past three months, his campaign announced Wednesday morning, marking another quarter during which he easily outpaced the Democrats hoping to challenge him.

Democrats MJ Hegar and Royce West are in a primary runoff to take on Cornyn. Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot, announced Tuesday evening that she raised $1.6 million during the first quarter, while West, a state senator, took in $407,000 over the period. That figure includes a $40,000 loan to himself, according to his newest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

The candidates have until the end of Wednesday to disclose their latest figures to the FEC.

Cornyn has $12.9 million in the bank, according to his campaign. Hegar, who had her best quarter yet, ended the period with $1.1 million cash on hand, her campaign said. West, meanwhile, is down to $121,000 in reserves, according to his FEC filing.

Hegar, the choice of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, advanced to the runoff with West after a 12-way primary in early March. Cornyn, meanwhile, did not have to worry about a competitive primary and continued to stockpile money for the general election.

The FEC already required the candidates to share their fundraising numbers for the period from Jan. 1 through Feb. 12, so the reports due Wednesday will reveal their finances from Feb. 13 through March 31, the end of the quarter.

For example, Hegar disclosed raising $638,000 from Jan. 1 through Feb. 12, so the quarterly total that her campaign announced Tuesday evening indicates she will report collecting $962,000 from Feb. 13 through March 31. The split for Cornyn is $1.2 million and $1.5 million for Jan. 1 through Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 through March 31, respectively.

The final few weeks of the quarter saw the coronavirus pandemic begin to upend campaigning, prompting candidates to cancel in-person events and make other adjustments for the foreseeable future.

"There's no question that COVID-19 has turned traditional campaigning on its head," Cornyn campaign manager John Jackson said in a statement on the incumbent's latest fundraising figures. "Instead of exploiting an emergency for political gain like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Senator Cornyn has been laser-focused on ensuring our families stay safe, businesses stay afloat, and frontline responders have the resources they need to fight this pandemic."

Despite the hurdles created by the pandemic, Hegar raised more in the first quarter than she did in any previous quarter, easily topping the $1.2 million she took in during the last three months of 2019. Teasing her fundraising numbers during a virtual campaign event last week, Hegar said she had her strongest quarter at a time when "a lot of campaigns are using [coronavirus] as an excuse to not be able to fundraise."

"Don't get me wrong: It's hard. It's hard because so many people are suffering," Hegar said. "We can't do fundraisers with large gatherings, but our grassroots energy and enthusiasm is really sustaining us."

While West raised a fraction of Hegar's haul, his campaign expressed confidence in a statement that emphasized its low dollar-to-vote ratio in the primary compared with that of "the opponent."

"The West campaign continues to raise the money necessary to win this race," West spokesman Vince Leibowitz said. "Simply put, our team can do more with less."

Cornyn has accrued over 50,000 donors this election cycle, according to his campaign. Two-thirds of his first-quarter contributions came from Texans, and over 95% of the donations were $200 or less. His average contribution during the period was $83.

Hegar's donor count, meanwhile, is up to over 42,000 people, her campaign said. Both in the first quarter and since she started her campaign, a majority of her donations have been from Texans, 90% have been $100 or less, and her average online contribution has been $23.

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