Everyone’s talking about John Cornyn

I feel like I’ve read more stories about John Cornyn lately than I read about Beto a year ago at this time.

Big John Cornyn

As President Donald Trump embarked for El Paso on Monday to rally support for a border wall, Texas Republican John Cornyn sent out a personal message through his 2020 U.S. Senate re-election campaign:

“Texas stands with President Trump.”

For Cornyn, seeking a fourth term in the Senate, the message underscored some of the central challenges of his re-election bid: for better or worse, his fate is inextricably tied to that of a famously polarizing and unpredictable president, with whom he will share a ballot.

“As in the rest of my life, I don’t sweat too much the things I can’t control,” Cornyn said later in the week. “I look at the things I can control, and I can control my preparation for what I think will likely be a fairly serious opposition in 2020. The president is at the top of the ticket, and I believe he will be responsible for nearly 100 percent of the turnout, about half of the voters for him, and half against him.”


“The degree of difficulty John Cornyn is going to have in 2020 right now I think very much rests in the hands of Beto O’Rourke,” said political scientist James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

While Cruz labeled O’Rourke “too liberal for Texas,” Democrats like the contrast of a youthful, relative outsider against a 67-year-old incumbent who earned his stripes the old-fashioned way: working his way patiently up the Senate GOP ladder.

To many Texas Republicans, O’Rourke represents Cornyn’s worst-case-scenario. But some also see him as a one-off candidate that no other Texas Democrat can easily replicate. Next in the Democratic echelon are U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro and his twin brother, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. Many believe that Julián Castro’s own White House bid takes both brothers out of the Senate race.

Other than O’Rourke – who Texas Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak calls “a hundred-year flood” in Texas politics – that would seem to clear the decks for Cornyn.

“Whoever runs against Cornyn doesn’t start where Beto stops,” Mackowiak said. “They start wherever they are.”

For Texas Democrats, that means starting with an expected voter share in the high 30 to low 40 percentage points – the average electoral result pre-Beto.

See here and here for some recent examples. We don’t really learn anything new in this story – spoiler alert, his campaign manager thinks Republicans need to work on their turnout in 2020 – just that the phenomenon of John Cornyn Is Taking 2020 Seriously and Will Beto Run For Senate Against John Cornyn has not come close to petering out.

There’s also the new startup of Who Will Run Against Cornyn If It’s Not Beto stories.

Democrats who are said to be considering a Senate run: MJ Hegar, an Afghanistan war hero and author who came within 2.9 points of toppling U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and North Texas farmer Kim Olson, who lost by 4.9 points to Republican state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Another potential candidate, according to party activists is former state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who suffered a lopsided loss in the 2014 governor’s race.

On Valentine’s Day, Cornyn’s campaign launched an online fundraising appeal citing Hegar and Davis as possible candidates.

But some Texas Democrats see the party’s best chances for success in a reprise of O’Rourke’s Senate campaign. O’Rourke hasn’t publicly mentioned a Senate run as a possibility — he told Oprah Winfrey last week that he’ll decide whether to run for president by the end of the month — but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., met with O’Rourke last week to discuss a possible challenge to Cornyn, according to Politico.

“It’s very significant that Schumer is talking to Texans,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a political action committee, who said the Democratic leader had spoken to other potential candidates. “It signifies that Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee think Cornyn is vulnerable — and they’re right.”

A survey conducted Wednesday and Thursday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found in a hypothetical matchup, 47 percent of registered Texas voters support Cornyn and 45 percent prefer O’Rourke, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

You can see more about that poll here. I got an email about it but didn’t do a post because it’s crazy early and there’s no data beyond the topline numbers. It actually would have been useful if they had included some other potential matchups for Cornyn – Big John versus MJ Hegar or Kim Olson or Joaquin Castro – just to see how they compared to Cornyn versus Beto. It would at least be a data point for where a less-known Democrat starts out in this matchup. In theory, we will have some clarity about this in about a week.

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7 Responses to Everyone’s talking about John Cornyn

  1. Bruce Hunt says:

    Beto’s best play is to be the candidate for vice president (my pick is a Harris/O’Rourke ticket). But you can’t really run for VP, and if he runs for Senate and then gets tapped for VP, it completely wrecks the Democrats in the Senate race. Better that Beto runs for president and then takes the VP slot when the time comes.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Cornyn recently voted to keep troops in Afghanistan, against Trump’s wishes to just declare victory and leave, after all these years. This tells me Cornyn is not representing Texans, he’s representing the MIC donors who will lose their contracts if that happens.

    He needs a primary opponent in the worst way, although I think he’s safe. Trump tweeted an endorsement for him anyway, I think Trump would rather have a not-so-great Chamber of Commerce type R incumbent vs. taking a chance on getting another Doug Jones.


  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill you need to read outside your comfort zone, Trump has gone down and is least like in Texas that voted for him. Not to mention that we will be in a recession when that votes comes, people will still be getting less money in their refunds. He will be sending American young men and women to fight the Venezuelans battles, since they won’t.

    Not to mention we are a very strong property rights, the Federal government just start taking property won’t sit well with many people, including this one.

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    First, it’s disturbing that you root for recession. You’re hoping for bad times. Sad.

    Second, Dems are currently immolating themselves, trying to out leftist each other. They just voted against a law that would prevent Ralph Northam’s dream….the killing of newborn infants. There are plenty of churchgoing people of all colors and affiliations that aren’t going to be down with that, and all the major Dem candidates just voted it down. Their vote is on record. I’d say that most people who are for abortion probably can’t go that far, killing a live, born baby, right there on the table. This is going to turn off those suburban women who voted for Lizzy. Even
    ‘girl power’ and ‘black girl magic’ enthusiasts are going to be revulsed at the thought of a live baby being executed on the operating room table.

    You bring up the tax refunds being smaller. The kind of stupid people who can’t put it together that they kept more in their paychecks during the year and overall paid less tax are going to be told that by their tax preparer when they gripe about it. The people who actually lost on the tax cuts are the people in high SALT tax states, and most of them weren’t voting Trump anyway. The SALT deduction was lowered specifically to hit liberal high tax states. Sure some are going to be mad, but others might start questioning WHY their SALT taxes are so high. You can see that in NY, where there is an exodus of taxpaying people.

    Then there’s guns. Those same Dem candidates just voted to criminalize the private transfer of firearms, meaning a grandfather can’t give his son or grandson a gun or three from his gun collection without state approval. It means parents sending their daughters off to college can’t send them off with a pistol for self defense without government approval. It means I can’t die and will my gun to anyone without government intercession. That’s not going to play well in Texas.

    As far as Venezuela goes, didn’t you folks swear that if crazy, unhinged, incompetent Trump got elected, we’d be in WWIII with Russia and North Korea by now? We were going to be in a worldwide recession if Trump was elected, remember? How’s that prognostication workin’ out for ya?

    Maduro is only hanging on because he has the military on his side, for now. Maduro ordered aid trucks to be burned. The people are starving, and he’s burning trucks filled with food, medicine, and diapers. The key to that strategy is to be so brutal that everyone fears to turn on him. I don’t think that will be the case in Venezuela. Those people are accustomed to 1st World living conditions. The paid Chavista thugs might stay loyal for the pay, but the military will eventually turn, after being forced to fire on their own people and keep them starving. Patriotic people in the military aren’t going to be down with extended repression of those they have sworn to protect.

    I agree with you on the property rights issue, and I also agree that some of the landowners don’t want the wall, but many do, they want some relief from the invasion that they are on the front lines of. Those folks are the ones who constantly get robbed, have their fences cut, have to fear leaving their houses without a gun, etc. Even the owners who don’t want the wall are already subject to daily intrusion by the government, because that’s where both the illegal invaders and Border Patrol fight it out….on their property.

  5. C.L. says:

    Bill, I’m confused. You want US govt intervention with a woman’s right to choose, no US govt intervention in firearm sales, want US govt intervention in the internal affairs of foreign countries, are claiming the SALT deductions were a political hit job designed to punish States with liberal leanings, and you belief Ralph Northam dreams about killing children ?

    Simmer down, Alex Jones has already cornered that market.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    I support abortion, and hey, if y’all like birthday killings, I’m down with that, too, because I don’t want to pay for your baby, which probably has a lot of medical problems after you unsuccessfully tried to kill it in the womb. Regarding Venezuela, we’re allowed to have a foreign policy. I don’t support us sending in troops, and really, am not hugely in favor of sending the humanitarian aid to people who created their own disaster via socialism. But OK, if Trump wants to send food, medicine and diapers as part of his foreign policy objectives, fine.

    Regarding the SALT deduction limitations, it wasn’t some big conspiracy to obfuscate like “you’ll have to pass it to find out all the good stuff in it,” SALT deduction limitations and the fallout of that was right there, out in the open. We all knew up front people in high tax states were going to pay more. Consider that liberal privilege.

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    I am repeating what most economic experts are predicting Bill, again get out of your comfort zone.

    I don’t have an idea what the Senate voted on but I am sure it was not the killing of babies, at worse it seems to suggest should medical care be provided, but I am not sure I am correct on that.

    If the baby can be saved, will you promise to take care of him or her and provide all medical and all needs, since you love babies so much?

    I have no problem with the government knowing if I own arms, I am a law abiding citizen. But then maybe you have reason to hide the possession of weapons.

    Trump is crazy but now that the rope is getting tighter he seems to be doing better, thus hiring more and better lawyers. He won’t start a war with Russia, he may get killed in that war. Some South American Country or Iran, yes, he can hide behind his guards.

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