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Another primary challenger to Cornyn

Good luck, but don’t expect much.

Big John Cornyn

A Dallas investor branding himself a “Reagan Republican” has launched a primary challenge against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, calling one of the top-ranking GOP senators a lackey of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump.

Mark Yancey, the former owner of the Dallas Wings WNBA team, said in his campaign announcement that he has “good reason” to believe Cornyn is vulnerable as he jumped into a Republican field that could soon swell to include three challengers.

Even if Yancey falls short, the primary fight could force Cornyn to spend some much-needed cash ahead of what is widely expected to be the toughest election battle of his three-term career in the Senate. Democratic El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke came within three percentage points of beating Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 elections, and the Democrats are redoubling efforts in Texas in 2020.

Yancey in his announcement branded himself a moderate Republican — a new tack against Cornyn, who has previously fended off primary attacks from the right.

“Senator Cornyn has frequently disappointed Texans with his strong alignment with both Mitch McConnell and Trump,” Yancey said in the statement. “He has shown repeatedly that he is a follower and a compromiser on the wrong side of an issue rather than a leader.”

Well, that’s certainly a clear contrast with Cornyn, but I don’t know how many primary-voting Republicans there are that would sign on to that statement. Trump isn’t polling that well in Texas, but his numbers are very strong among self-identified Republicans. If there is a serious challenge to Cornyn in the GOP primary, it’s more likely to come from State Sen. Pat Fallon, accusing Cornyn of being a big ol’ RINO squish. As the story notes, the establishment strongly supports Cornyn, but attacking from the right is never a terrible idea in a GOP primary. I’m not too worried if I’m Big John, is what I’m saying. And as I’ve been saying on the Dem side, money spent in a primary is an investment, not a sunk cost. Cornyn will have no trouble raising it back. He will not be hurting for cash, no matter what. I wish Mark Yancey good luck, but I sure hope he knows what he’s getting into.

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5 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “Senator Cornyn has frequently disappointed Texans with his strong alignment with both Mitch McConnell and Trump…..”

    Well, that’s all the endorsement I need to hear. A vote for Cornyn it is. The guy is telling us up front that he’s not on Team Trump. Good job, guy, your goal of winning a Republican primary by distancing yourself from Trump has just failed. Enjoy wasting your money.

    if I was Cornyn, I wouldn’t even bother to debate this guy.

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    The problem with a centrist primary challenger to an incumbent is that they can show problems in a candidates base. It identifies reachable disaffected voters. The top of the Dem ballot starts off with a minimum of 4.5 million voters in Texas. Get them to vote against Cornyn and find 600,000 more…and the Dems win. Yanceys bid helps in both areas. Yanceys messaging will be anti Trump and will attempt to tie Cornyn to Trump. Even finding 50,000 moderate GOP primary voters willing to vote against an incumbent is useful for the Dems. And since each one of the Yancey voters would represent a potential flipped vote from Republican to Democrat, the impact of that vote is doubled if they can be convinced to vote Democrat in the general.

    Beyond that, a self funded attack campaign on Cornyn will show the Dems what messaging might work (and what might not) in the general and may soften up Cornyns support.

    But the mere fact that there are multiple challengers to Cornyn shows some level of dissatisfaction in Cornyns base.

    A Fallon voter isnt voting for any Democrat for US Senate. A Yancey voter might. If Im Cornyn, Im more concerned about Yancey getting 10 percent than Fallon getting 20 percent.

    Cornyn isnt going to lose in the primary and probably starts off with a 5 to 10 point lead in the general. But Yanceys bid doesnt have to win to harm Cornyn.

  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    One final note. Moderate challengers may not really be looking to win, but to establish their anti Trump bona fides so that when Trump collapses spectacularly, they will be the people the GOP turns to as the people to attempt to pick up the pieces. Moderate challengers in 2020 are really looking to 2022 or beyond.

  4. Jules says:

    Tom, good comments.

  5. Susan Egrets says:

    This is good. The Corn will have to spend money.

  6. Susan Egrets says:

    This is good. The Corn will have to spend money.