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New Polling, a Primary Threat, and Fired-Up Democrats Spell Trouble for Senator Cornyn

Already facing his “toughest race yet,” Cornyn may face “major Republican primary challenger

Bad news is coming in threes today for Senator John Cornyn as new polling shows the Texas Senate race in a dead heat and Texas Democrats report “record fundraising.” Meanwhile, as Texas shifts in Democrats’ favor, Cornyn is facing “smoldering dissatisfaction within his base” and a primary threat from a “high-profile” Tea Party challenger who is certain to drag the already out-of-touch incumbent even further to the right.

This week’s news makes Texas the sixth state in Republicans’ “nightmare scenario for Senate primaries.” Cornyn joins Thom Tillis and unelected Senator Martha McSally in having to get past a credible primary challenger before he can compete in the general election, and Republicans in AlabamaKansas, and New Hampshire are bracing for ugly, expensive races that are guaranteed to leave their mark on whichever flawed nominees make it out of the primary.

Read more about the bad news awaiting Senator Cornyn back in Texas:

McClatchy: Top Democrats ahead of Trump in deep red Texas, poll finds

  • In the Texas U.S. Senate race, Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, held an advantage of one percentage point among Texas voters over any Democratic candidate. Forty-one percent of Texas voters said they planned to vote for Cornyn and 40 percent said they would vote for a Democratic candidate.
  • Texas Latino voters prefer any Democratic Senate candidate over Cornyn. Twenty-two percent of Latino voters said they would vote for Cornyn, while 58 percent said they would vote for a Democratic candidate.

The Hill: Cornyn faces toughest race yet in changing Texas

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is facing the toughest election fight of his political career as he seeks a fourth term in a once deep-red state that Democrats view as a competitive battleground.
  • When Cornyn won reelection during the 2014 midterms, he did so with 2.8 million votes. He’ll have to blow past that this year after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke turned out more than 4 million Texas Democrats in the 2018 midterms.
  • Cornyn will have to chip away at the broader political forces that are reshaping Texas, as well as President Trump’s relative weakness here during a presidential election year.
  • …polls show that despite his decades-long political career in Texas — he was state attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002 — he is a relatively unknown commodity.
  • That’s left an opening for Texas Democrats, who say the primary goal for the war room is to define Cornyn for the flood of new voters who have moved into the state.
  • GOP support among women and suburban voters has slipped, as Texas has attracted scores of new voters from more liberal parts of the country.
  • That’s a huge problem for Republicans in Texas

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn may draw challenge from Tea Party Republican from North Texas

  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s seat is clearly a key target for Texas Democrats in 2020.
  • But it also may be a target for Texas Tea Party Republicans.
  • Monday night, state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, announced he is forming an exploratory committee to help determine whether he will challenge Cornyn for the post.
  • Political observers say this move illustrates an internal struggle in the Republican Party.
  • “Sen. Cornyn has been so concerned with which Democrat will be the nominee that he may have neglected paying attention to smoldering dissatisfaction within his base,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.
  • “Core Republican activists are looking for conservative candidates to push back on the rise of successful progressive Democrats in Texas,” he said. “If they feel John Cornyn is not the conservative he claims to be, a primary challenge could catch fire.”
  • [Cornyn] does not have a big fan base with some grassroots Republicans, particularly those in Tea Party groups, who have booed him at some Republican Party of Texas state conventions.

Dallas Morning News: North Texas lawmaker seriously mulling challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn could be about to get his first major Republican primary challenger.
  • Pat Fallon, a state senator who represents a large part of North Texas including parts of Denton, Sherman and Wichita Falls, told The Dallas Morning News on Monday he is seriously considering challenging Cornyn in the Republican primary next year.
  • A staunch conservative who last year authored a bill to make it more difficult to remove Confederate and other historical monuments, Fallon said he disagrees with many of Cornyn’s policy stances and questioned the longtime incumbent Republican’s conservative bonafides.
  • “Republican voters deserve a viable candidate who will better represent their values,” Fallon, R-Prosper, said in a telephone interview. “We need someone new.”

Texas Tribune: Texas Sen. Pat Fallon exploring primary challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

  • State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, announced Monday evening he is exploring a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, potentially giving the state’s senior senator his most prominent intraparty opponent yet.
  • Fallon said that for six months, he had been hoping that a “viable conservative choice” would step up to take on Cornyn, but that person never emerged.
  • Fallon did not mention Cornyn by name but repeatedly referred to the “long-term incumbent” and said, “He’s had 18 years. Some of the things you agree with until you check under the hood” and see whether his rhetoric matches his record.

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