AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sen. John Cornyn spent nearly $5.5 million in the two months leading up to Texas' Republican primary to help fend off a quixotic challenge from the right by renegade Congressman Steve Stockman.
Campaign manager Brendan Steinhauser told The Associated Press that Cornyn raised $2.32 million in the year's first quarter and had nearly $3.35 million in cash on hand March 31. The campaign ended 2013 with $6.5 million in its war chest, meaning that $5.47 million was spent between New Year's Day and the end of last month. Most of that went toward radio, television and Web advertising across Texas' vast and costly media markets ahead of the March 4 primary.
Although Cornyn is still campaigning, he hasn't spent much on advertising since the primary.
The Senate's No. 2 Republican as minority whip, Cornyn is seeking his third term and garnered 59 percent of the primary vote to trounce Stockman and six lesser-known challengers. He won convincingly, despite being accused by some tea party groups and other conservatives of being too moderate and cozy with the GOP establishment in Washington.
Stockman received about 19 percent of the primary vote, but that actually could be considered respectable since he didn't decide to challenge Cornyn until the last minute. Stockman's campaign hasn't released its latest finance reports, so it's unclear how much it spent leading up to the primary. But Stockman began his campaign in debt, made almost no public appearances in Texas and ignored the media.
Things got so bad that a coalition of high-profile Texas tea party activists formally disavowed Stockman just before the primary, accusing him of running perhaps the laziest campaign in state history. He was also dogged by charges of campaign finance irregularities and dropped out of sight for nearly three weeks in January, missing almost 20 House votes — though it turned out he was part of an official overseas delegation for much of that time.
Still, Cornyn's big spending on advertising and campaign infrastructure statewide shows he wasn't taking any chances. Meanwhile, a group known as Texans for a Conservative Majority bought time on TV stations in Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, the heart of Stockman's district, claiming the congressman was a corrupt liar.
Cornyn is now the overwhelming favorite in November, when he will face the winner of a Democratic runoff May 27 between Dallas dental mogul David Alameel, a former top GOP donor, and Kesha Rogers, who has called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama. The Democratic Party of Texas has urged its voters not to support Rogers.
"We are proud of our steady, strong support from across Texas," Steinhauser said, "and the campaign will have no shortage of resources as Senator Cornyn works to unite our coalition and expand the party heading into November."