Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

The $2 Billion Campaign Against John Cornyn (Updated)

Updated 4:38 p.m. | Democrat David Alameel announced recently his challenge to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and the wealthy dentist said money won’t be a problem. I’m not so sure.

“I’ll just do whatever it takes,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “Money is not an issue for me.”

The source of Alameel’s confidence is unclear. There are expensive Senate races, and then there is Texas — in a league of its own.

This will be Alameel’s second run for office in as many cycles. Last cycle, he ran for Congress in the newly-drawn 33rd District and finished fourth out of 11 candidates in the Democratic primary. Alameel received 2,064 votes (10 percent) after spending $2.6 million of his own money. His campaign spent $1,276.78 per vote, according to the Texas Tribune.

Alameel had some difficulty raising his name identification in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But that media market doesn’t even cover a third of general election voters in Texas, a state blanketed by 19 media markets in total.

Then again, money isn’t a problem, right? Alameel estimated his fortune at more than $50 million to the Dallas Morning News, so carpet-bombing the state with television ads should come easy.

But if we take Alameel’s cost per vote total from his congressional race and extrapolate to a Senate race, the numbers get out of control quickly.

Next year’s Senate race in Texas is likely to draw approximately 4.5 million voters, based on the two past midterm Senate races which drew 4.5 million voters (2002) and 4.3 million voters (2006) and population growth in the state.

That means Alameel will need approximately 2,150,000 votes (taking into account a third party candidate) and a mere $2.7 billion dollars to make it happen ($2,745,077,000 to be more precise).

“Money is not an issue for me.”

Of course, Alameel might be able to pull off a victory for slightly less, but he still faces tremendous financial hurdles.

Cornyn spent $9.5 million on his initial election in 2002 and $16 million in 2008. The state’s senior senator had $7 million in the bank at the end of September for next year’s contest to go along with millions of dollars of name identification from representing the state for more than a decade.

None of this accounts for the fact that Alameel is a Democrat running statewide in Texas, where no Democrat has reached 44 percent of the vote in a U.S. Senate race since Lloyd Bentsen’s re-election in 1988. Alameel is no Lloyd Bentsen.

The filing deadline for candidates in Texas is Dec. 9 — one of the earliest in the country.

I know it will come as a surprise that the Texas Senate race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Updated 4:38 p.m. |

The Alameel spending figures cited by the Texas Tribune were incomplete. The Democrat actually spent $4,485,086 million in the 2012 race, which comes out to $2,173 per vote. Using the same metrics for his U.S. Senate race, Alameel would need to spend $4.67 billion instead of $2.7 billion to defeat Cornyn.

  • Layla

    Just what America needs, more Democrat billionaires and millionaires in office.

    NO THANKS…..That’s the LAST thing we need.

  • Ryan

    That is the most filler of a front-page article I’ve ever read. He’s an ambitious also-ran who didn’t learn how to spend wisely the first time around, and might or might not learn better this time around. Cornyn’s gonna get re-elected, that much is a given. But you can’t assume that a statewide general election and an eleven-candidate district party primary will have similar price-per-vote figures, Nathan, and I’m surprised you even tried to extrapolate it that way.

    • nathanlgonzales

      Ryan- Can’t we have a little fun? I thought it was pretty obvious that this post was written with at least an attempt at humor.

      • Ryan

        Be that as it may, when Roll Call put the story at the top of the front page, you expect at least a semi-serious article. That may not have been your fault, but it killed the effect of the humor. Unfortunate, too.

      • Rob_Chapman

        Leave the spoofing for Saturday Night Live, please Nathan, we read the Rothenblog for info, not for entertainment.

  • kind67

    I think this article, while apparently intended to be humorous, actually brings up a serious issue. Why is money so important to winning elections? Elections should be about who has the best ideas for governing, not how much money you have or how good a fundraiser you are.

    • nathanlgonzales

      kind67- But I think your question is why part of this post should be encouraging. Alameel spent a ridiculous amount of money in the 2012 primary and finished fourth. Money didn’t buy him the election or the seat.

      In terms of the Senate seat, the point isn’t that money is the only pre-requisite for winning. But you have to introduce yourself to voters and let them know what you stand for, and in Texas that takes a lot of money because it’s so big.

      • kind67

        How about public financing of campaigns or learning about them on public television for free?

  • Benjamin Dover

    The principles of morality and liberty serve as a basis for the rules of law intended to prevent unequal treatment and plunder by the state.

  • don76550

    Money is not Alameels problem. Being a democrat is. There is no party so relentless in its goal to completely destroy American than the democrat party – which is precisely why they want to take your guns away from you. They are the party of marxists, perverts, baby killers, traitors. Anything damaging to America they support. In Texas, many democrats will tell you they are not like the national party. BS. If that were true they wouldn’t be democrats.

    • Rob_Chapman

      Over one hundred years ago, Republicans denounced Democrats as the party of rum, Romanism and rebellion.

      When will the Republicans stop projecting their fears onto the Democrats and start trying to do something to improve this country?

      Unfinished business which Republicans are obstructing include:

      *educational reform:
      *infra-structure upgrades and repairs
      * right sizing the US military
      *environmental protection and sustainable energy.

      There are plenty more and I hope that while Texans sit in their cars during their massive gridlock drive hours they think about how to improve matters, too.

      • don76550

        Educational reform? Don’t you really mean marxist indocrination in our government schools without any fear of competition or accountability? Right sizing the military? Don’t you mean totally dismanteling the military and bending over for our next foreign threat? Environmental protection? You mean the absolute destruction of our economy over bogus regulation from the EPA based on junk science and left wing hysteria. Sustainable energy? You tree huggers oppose any and all forms of sustainable energy. You get in your car and drive to a protest demonstration against oil. You are liars and hypocrits.

        • Rob_Chapman

          Don, America faces real problems, blaming them on the political opposition only makes them harder to solve.

          • don76550

            You don’t solve problems by lying about them. Just ask Obama

          • Rob_Chapman

            Don, you don’t solve problems by lying about your opponents either.

            If a martian landed today and observed what is wrong with our country, he would probably conclude that every single one of us has lost the ability to be honest or to be just.

            As your remark to me reflects, we prefer blaming to understanding and posturing to working.

            Thanks for being so unreflective and reactionary and illustrating my points about the utterly obstructionist and unproductive attitude emanating from American conservatism.

          • don76550

            You arn’t trying to solve any problems. You are the problem

          • Rob_Chapman

            Don, solving problems requires cooperation and listening.

            Listening means hearing and not obeying.

            Again, you are demonstrating the deafness and stubborness that typify so many conservatives.

            It appears that you would rather go on in your misery and complain than do anything to better yourself.

            But, I making the unwarranted assumption that you are not already perfect.

  • andrewp111

    This can’t be right.

    “The Democrat actually spent $4,485,086 million in the 2012 race”

    $4,485,086 million = 4.485086 Trillion, which exceeds the entire annual US Federal expenditure.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Rothenblog’s analysis shows remarkable partisan bias.

    Allameel, or any other Dem should be able to conduct a campaign in Texas for amounts similar to those accrued and spent by their GOP opponents.

    That the incumbent Senator had to double his campaign expenditures for his re-election campaign can hardly be considered a sign of strength.

    It is a dead certainty that Conryn will have plenty of money, if he needs $32 million for this campaign, the wealthy angels of Texas conservatism will pony up $25 million for him.

    Clearly, no challenger can match that sort of money power.

    The question is how long the voters of the Lone Star State will make their electoral decision based on the big money instructions received from well funded conservative political campaigns.

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