Apr 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Cornyn flexes fundraising muscle in McConnell succession race

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, participates in the news confernce

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, participates in the news conference. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) has raised a whopping $18.3 million this election cycle to help GOP incumbents and candidates — putting him ahead of his leadership opponent Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has long been a formidable fundraiser as Senate GOP leader. Proving they can similarly rake in the cash is critical for both Johns vying to replace him.

  • Leadership races are insider games, and fundraising helps curry favor with colleagues.
  • Cornyn and Thune's energized fundraising efforts could boost Republicans who have been struggling to keep up with Democrats' massive hauls this cycle, as Axios reported.

By the numbers: Cornyn pulled in $5.6 million in just the first three months of the year for Republican candidates, a source familiar with his fundraising told Axios.

  • He has long been a top GOP fundraiser, and uniquely helps fellow Republicans raise money directly to their campaigns.

Thune has raised a total of $13.1 million for Republicans this cycle, and is the No. 2 fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee — behind Chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.), according to a source familiar with his fundraising operation.

  • The source declined to provide his quarter one total.
  • Thune has also participated in more than 200 events to Cornyn's 45, according to the sources familiar.

The totals include funds raised through joint-fundraising committees and to the NRSC as well as directly for Republican senators and candidates.

Between the lines: Money matters, but it won't be the only factor in deciding who ends up taking up the mantle after McConnell.

  • For example, Thune's current spot as the No. 2-ranked Senate Republican is often cited as an advantage, and Cornyn's role in pushing a bipartisan gun bill in 2022 could hurt him, multiple sources familiar with the dynamics have told Axios.
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