May 1, 2024 - Politics

Cornyn's fundraising muscle

A man in a suit

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has been in office since 2002. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn has raised a whopping $18.3 million this election cycle to help GOP incumbents and candidates — getting ahead of his Republican leadership opponent Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Why it matters: Cornyn and Thune have emerged as contenders to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell as he plans to step down as the Senate GOP leader in November.

  • McConnell, of Kentucky, has long been a formidable fundraiser, and it will be critical for the two Johns to show they too can rake in cash.

State of play: Leadership races are insider games, and fundraising helps earn favor with colleagues.

Zoom in: Cornyn, a San Antonio native, was elected to the Senate in 2002 and served as the Republican Whip from 2013 to 2019.

  • He's long been a top GOP fundraiser, helping fellow Republicans grow their campaign coffers.
  • He raised $5.6 million for Republican candidates in the first three months of 2024, a source familiar with his fundraising told Axios.

The other side: Thune is the No. 2 fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, behind Montana's Steve Daines, according to a source familiar with the fundraising operation.

  • The source declined to provide Thune's first-quarter total.

Between the lines: Money matters, but it won't be the only factor in deciding who replaces McConnell.

  • Cornyn's role in pushing a bipartisan gun bill in 2022 could hurt him, multiple sources have told Axios.

Meanwhile: U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a Democrat from the Dallas area running for Senate, raised almost $2.6 million more than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the first quarter of 2024, per an Axios analysis.

  • The two will face off in November for Cruz's seat.

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