Texas Democrats aren't waiting for the primary—they're spending early millions to defeat Cornyn
Look at Sen. John Cornyn getting all confrontational with Donald Trump. Well, maybe not actually “confrontational,” but challenging. Sort of. The Texas Republican is freaking out about the prospects of what a closed border could do to his state, and directly related to that, to his re-election in 2020.
Cornyn says he told Trump that “shutting down the border would have a lot of unintended consequences.” He didn’t say whether he told Trump one of those consequences would be losing his seat, but he’s got to be more than a little worried about that. Texas Democrats are making sure of that by “launching a multi-million-dollar initiative to help take [Cornyn] down […] regardless of who they ultimately choose as their nominee next year.” State Democrats haven’t done this before in recent history, taking on an incumbent Republican well before a Democratic opponent is chosen, but the close race Democrat Beto O’Rourke ran against Sen. Ted Cruz last year spurred them to take on this early strategy.
A memo the Texas Tribune obtained from the state party says, “In 2020, we must seize the opportunity to flip Texas. […] We cannot wait for the primary dust to settle before we launch our attacks on John Cornyn.” The memo cites public polling showing Cornyn’s vulnerability, including the fact that 64 percent of Texas voters either don’t know or dislike him. They intend to help those undecided, and “define Cornyn and reveal him for what he is—a coward, afraid of shadows on his right and left.”
To that end, they’ll be spending on “five fronts: digital, communications, messaging and polling, research, and data and targeting” in a fully staffed campaign to give the eventual challenger a head start. The party says it has achieved “record-breaking fundraising” to allow the effort. This will force Cornyn, who’s got about $6 million in the bank, to spend early and often to counter the messaging. He won’t be able to wait until there’s an opponent to define in order to shore up his own image.