The $4 Billion Campaign Against John Cornyn
December 6, 2013 · 9:50 AM EST
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 nearly $4.5 million of his own money. His campaign spent $2,173 per vote.
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 $4.67 billion dollars to make it happen.
“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.