John Cornyn raises $2.7 million in first quarter as MJ Hegar collects $1.6 million

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Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic challenger MJ Hegar. Photo credit: Juan Figueroa: Cornyn/Marjorie Kamys Cotera: Hegar

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, raised $2.7 million over the past three months, his campaign announced Wednesday morning, hours after MJ Hegar, one of the Democrats seeking to oppose him in November, said she took in $1.6 million during the first quarter.

Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot, is in a primary runoff with Dallas state Sen. Royce West, who has not announced his first-quarter fundraising haul yet. The candidates have until the end of Wednesday to disclose their latest figures to the Federal Election Commission.

Hegar, who had her best quarter yet, ended the period with $1.1 million cash on hand, her campaign said.

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 at a rate that far outpaced the Democrats. He now has $12.9 million in the bank, according to his campaign.

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 the end of the quarter, or March 31.

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.

While West has not shared his first-quarter total yet, he previously told the FEC that he took in $178,000 from Jan. 1 through Feb. 12.

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 prior 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.”

Cornyn has now accrued over 50,000 donors this election cycle, according to his campaign. Two-thirds of his first-quarter contributions came from Texans, while 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 Texas, 90% have been $100 or less and her average online contribution has been $23.

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