Battleground 2020Elections 2020FederalIssuesStatewide NewsBREAKING: State Senator Pat Fallon Will Explore Challenging John Cornyn for U.S. Senate

The first-term state senator announced his potential primary challenge to Senator John Cornyn this evening.
September 9, 2019

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Today, State Senator Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) said he would explore challenging incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Fallon said he would launch an exploratory committee, and told The Texan, “I want to have an open and honest conversation with GOP primary voters to see if there is a groundswell of support for a primary challenge for U.S. Senate.”

A former Frisco City Council member, Fallon was elected to the Texas State House in 2012. He served there until 2017 when he announced he would challenge incumbent Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) in the Republican primary.

Despite running in a field of three and against an 18-year incumbent, Fallon won the primary handily with 62 percent of the vote. He went on to win the deeply red Senate District 30 with 74 percent in the general election against Democrat Kevin Lopez.

A successful athlete, Fallon played on the 1988 National Championship football team at the University of Notre Dame and served as an officer in the Air Force for four years before entering the business world. He now serves as president and CEO of Virtus Apparel, a tactical clothing company.

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According to Rice University’s Mark Jones, Fallon ranked as the 14th most conservative member of the State House in 2017 and the fifth most conservative state senator in 2019.

Cornyn, who is seeking his fourth six-year term, reported having an impressive $9 million cash on hand and raised over $2.5 million between April and June of this year.

The long-time senator has made strategic hires in campaign operatives like John Jackson, who ran Governor Greg Abbott’s political machine during the 2018 cycle, and Steve Munistieri, former Texas GOP Chairman and longtime political strategist who left the White House to join in reelection efforts.

Since launching his reelection efforts, Cornyn and his campaign have largely focused on the myriad Democrat opponents seeking to defeat him in the general election.

The Democrat field has become crowded in recent months, as candidates like former congressional candidate MJ Hegar, state Senator Royce West, Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, and labor organizer Christina Tzintzún Ramirez, have all entered the race.

Though Fallon would be the most high-profile Republican to challenge Cornyn, other candidates have entered the race.

Dwayne Stovall, who was one of Cornyn’s primary challengers in 2014 and, additionally, ran for state house district 18 in 2012, has launched his campaign. Mark Yancy, a Dallas-based investment industry executive, has also filed to run but has made no formal announcement.

Texas Democrats were invigorated after O’Rourke came within 2.6 percentage points of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last year and are looking to 2020 as an opportunity for their party to send a senator to Washington D.C. for the first time since 1993.

Perhaps an indicator of those 2020 apprehensions, Republicans have largely organized behind Cornyn prior to the highly anticipated election cycle.

In fact, Cornyn secured the endorsement of tea party favorite and fellow senator Cruz just a month after Cruz won reelection in a hard-fought battle against Beto O’Rourke, despite policy differences that have largely resulted in split allegiances within their own party.

In 2014, Cruz, whose reputation as a conservative firebrand has delineated him from the more moderate wing of the Republican Party, chose not to endorse his colleague when he faced multiple primary challengers who were largely considered to be more conservative alternatives to Cornyn. Regardless, Cornyn won the primary with 59 percent of the vote.

President Donald Trump has also endorsed Cornyn, along with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

However, Fallon has also been known to land big, and often unconventional, endorsements.

Notably, Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate in his position as Lt. Governor, chose to endorse Fallon over the incumbent Estes, who had served in the Senate under Patrick’s leadership since Patrick’s election in 2014.

Patrick even paid for polling for Fallon, and, in his video endorsement of the North Texas legislator, famously said, “I know both candidates in Senate District 30, and I choose Fallon.”

Additionally, Cruz chose to throw his support behind Fallon, and, according to his campaign website, Fallon also secured the support of 29 state house members and various local officials who actively chose to endorse against their sitting senator in favor of his challenger.

Fallon’s senate seat will not be on the ballot until 2022. He resides in Prosper with his wife Susan and two sons, Thomas and Mac.


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McKenzie DiLullo

McKenzie DiLullo serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.