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Today's newsletter is 932 contested words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Cornyn's fundraising muscle

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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2. 🧑‍💻 More AI on the horizon

New AI jobs posted per 100k people, Q1 2024
Data: UMD-LinkUp AIMaps; Note: "AI job" defined as a job requiring technical skills to build and/or use AI models. A bigger circle indicates more new jobs per capita. Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Nearly 40% of Texas companies use artificial intelligence, and another 17% are planning to use it in the coming year, per a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Why it matters: The findings show how companies are approaching AI and how they're weighing its benefits and risks.

Context: The Fed's April survey asked questions about traditional AI, which includes programs that can perform tasks using a set of rules, and generative AI, which autonomously generates new content.

  • Around 360 business executives answered.

What they found: 13% of Texas companies report using traditional AI only and 6% use generative AI only. Some 14% use both and 6% said they use AI but didn't know which type.

  • Half of the roughly 192 companies that use AI or plan to use it over the next year use it for marketing and advertising, and 45% use it for business analysis and predictive analytics.
  • Texas companies also use AI for customer service and cybersecurity.

Meanwhile: Texas and the Washington, D.C. metro area are emerging as strong second-tier contenders to Silicon Valley and Seattle for America's AI workforce.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth is an AI job hot spot, with 15.3 new AI jobs per 100,000 residents. The national average is 11.7 new AI jobs.

Yes, but: The Dallas metro is among 25 metros most at risk of AI-related job loss. An analysis estimated the region could lose 13% of its jobs to artificial intelligence.

Benefits and risks

3. 💰 Most Texans don't want school vouchers

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A majority of likely Texas voters in the November election disapprove of using public dollars to subsidize private school tuition, according to a new survey.

Why it matters: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott continues to support school vouchers despite fractured opinions within his own party and the Legislature's inability to pass a bill after two special sessions on the topic last year.

Driving the news: The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation surveyed 1,600 people in April on contested issues like vouchers, abortion and the border.

The intrigue: 57% of respondents said they disapproved of using tax dollars to provide school vouchers to all Texas parents. Only 36% signaled support.

  • 77% of Democrats, 56% of independents and 43% of Republicans surveyed opposed the idea.

Fun fact: The largest consensus was for teacher pay raises, which 90% of participants supported.

4. ğŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

A quick scan of other news. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⚖️ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was in New York for former President Trump's hush money trial, which Paxton called a "sham" and a "travesty of justice." (KHOU)

✈️ American Airlines is trimming three long-haul routes from DFW Airport because of Boeing's aircraft delivery delays. (DMN)

🚨 A man was sentenced to 60 years in prison for firing shots at officers during a 2022 chase in Tarrant County. (WFAA)

5. ğŸŽ¤ One community college contest to go

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A new nonpartisan initiative is trying to entice more community college students to vote this November by offering their campuses a chance to host a concert with a surprise performer.

Why it matters: Four-year colleges are the usual targets for registering young voters, but turnout at community colleges still needs work.

  • Voting rates for students at two-year public colleges were 10 percentage points lower in 2020 compared to their four-year public school counterparts, according to data collected by Tufts.

Driving the news: The Community College Commitment launched this week to boost voter registration and turnout at two-year colleges. This is the second cycle in a row with a targeted push to boost voting at two-year schools.

How it works: One community college will be chosen to host a concert on Vote Early Day, which is Oct. 29. The group promises a "well-known, surprise" artist that will be announced later.

  • Community colleges can also enter for other special events and giveaways.

How to participate: To enter, community colleges will need to hold voter education drives or host voter education events. Deadline for entry is Sept. 20.

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Art MacMillan.

Our picks:

ğŸŽ¶ Tasha is sadder than ever that Billie Eilish isn't coming to Texas.

🏈 Naheed is glad the Cowboys are feeding Zeke again.

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