Following the money in Texas’ heated U.S. Senate race

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With two weeks until Election Day, millions of dollars are pouring into key Texas races as candidates make their final pitches to voters.

In Texas’ heated U.S. Senate race, Democrat MJ Hegar raised $14 million from July-September, doubling the $7.2 million fundraising haul by incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn and wiping out his cash advantage.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, believes Hegar will have to raise and spend even more in the final two weeks to be competitive. She has lagged behind the support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has received in recent polls.

“(Hegar) has to use that money to shore up support where Democrats are running strong, but she’s not running as strong,” Rottinghaus told KXAN. “She doesn’t have the same degree of suburban success that Biden has. She doesn’t have the gender gap success that Biden has.”

Cornyn has tried his best to link Hegar to people and money outside of Texas—he’s repeatedly referred to his opponent as “Hollywood Hegar” on the campaign trail. New York and Boston rank third and fifth respectively among Hegar’s top-contributing metros.

Campaign finance records show a majority of Hegar’s individual contributions, 57%, came from out of state this cycle, compared to 33% for Cornyn. But Hegar has relied far more heavily on small donations, 50% to 18%, according to an analysis by Open Secrets.

“There’s no doubt that there’s growing national interest in this race, and that’s reflected in both of their reports,” said Patrick Svitek, the primary political correspondent for the Texas Tribune.

Political action committees and employees tied to investment firms rank among Cornyn’s top contributors—Apollo Global Management, KKR & Co., Blackstone Group and Berkshire Hathaway represent four of the top five—while Hegar is most supported by PACs and employees tied to the University of Texas, the progressive Emily’s List and various technology companies.

Hegar has benefited more from the support of outside groups than Cornyn. More than $9.6 million from outside groups has been spent either supporting Hegar or opposing Cornyn, compared to $5 million supporting Cornyn or opposing Hegar.

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