Early this election cycle, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn publicly worried about complacency within the Texas Republican political class — even after Democratic gains made in 2018.
So in early 2019, the state’s senior senator encouraged Texas Republicans in the U.S. House to bolster their fundraising and think twice about sending money out of the state.
“There’s an attempt by the leadership to extract as much money as possible out of the state as they can and use that wherever they need it, and I understand that," he told The Texas Tribune in June 2019. “But we need to make sure our Texas races — from the president and all the way down to the courthouse — are adequately financed and resourced. And that’s going to require us to raise a significant amount of money."
More than a year later, a Texas Tribune analysis of recent campaign finance reports shows that Cornyn's fears of a funding problem have come to life. Democratic U.S. House candidates in Texas have millions more aggregate cash on hand than their Republican counterparts. It marks an extraordinary six-year shift within the Texas delegation.
In 2016, U.S. House Republican candidates in Texas had $32.3 million on hand in July of that year. Their Democratic counterparts reported $11.4 million.
The next cycle, boosted by a backlash to President Donald Trump, Democrats saw a jump in fundraising. In 2018, Texas Republican U.S. House candidates had $34.8 million in cash on hand, compared with $21.8 million on the Democratic side.
Newly filed campaign finance reports show a complete shift this year. Republicans running for the U.S. House in Texas reported $19.2 million. Democrats had $26.7 million.
In some races, the outsized financial reserves will amount to little, thanks to precisely drawn congressional lines intended to reinforce Republican incumbent protection. But for a Texas Democratic ecosystem that was effectively moribund only six years ago, the ways in which these Democratic candidates are raising and spending their campaign funds point to a more sophisticated — and optimistic — approach to the fall general election campaign.