John Cornyn

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John Cornyn
John Cornyn official portrait, 2009.jpg
Senate Minority Whip
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Jon Kyl
United States Senator
from Texas
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 1, 2002[1]
Serving with Ted Cruz
Preceded by Phil Gramm
49th Attorney General of Texas
In office
January 13, 1999 – December 1, 2002
Governor George W. Bush
Rick Perry
Preceded by Dan Morales
Succeeded by Greg Abbott
Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
January 2, 1991 – October 18, 1997
Governor Ann Richards
George W. Bush
Preceded by Franklin S. Spears
Succeeded by Deborah Hankinson
Personal details
Born John Cornyn III
(1952-02-02) February 2, 1952 (age 62)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sandy Cornyn
Children 2
Residence Austin, Texas
Alma mater Trinity University (B.A.)
St. Mary's University (J.D.)
University of Virginia (LL.M.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Church of Christ
Website www.cornyn.senate.gov

John Cornyn III (born February 2, 1952) is the senior United States Senator for Texas, serving since 2002. He is a member of the Republican Party and the current Senate Minority Whip for the 113th Congress. Cornyn previously served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2007 to 2011.[2]

Born in Houston, Cornyn is a graduate from Trinity University and St. Mary's University School of Law, receiving his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Cornyn was a Judge on Texas' 37th District Court from 1985 to 1991, until he was elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, where he served 1991 to 1997. In 1998, Cornyn was elected Attorney General of Texas, serving one term until winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was re-elected to a second term in 2008 and he is running for a third term in 2014.

Early life, education, and legal career[edit]

Cornyn was born in Houston, the son of Atholene Gale Cornyn (née Danley) and John Cornyn II, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force.[3] He attended the American School in Japan while growing up when his family moved to Tokyo.[4] He graduated from Trinity University in 1973, where he majored in journalism and was a member of Chi Delta Tau.[5][6] He earned a J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1977 and an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995.[7][8]

He served in San Antonio for six years as a district judge before being elected as a Republican in 1990 to the Texas Supreme Court, on which he served for seven years.

Attorney General[edit]

1998 election[edit]

In 1998 Cornyn decided to run to become Texas Attorney General. In the March primary, Barry Williamson, Railroad Commissioner, placed first with 38% of the vote but failed to get the 50% threshold necessary to win the Republican nomination. Cornyn, then a state Supreme Court Justice, got second place with 32%.[9] In the April run-off election, Cornyn defeated Williamson 58% to 42%.[10] In the general election, Cornyn defeated Jim Mattox, former attorney general (1983–1991) and U.S. Congressman, with 54% of the vote.[11] Cornyn became only the second Republican to hold the position.

Accomplishments[edit]

He created the Texas Internet Bureau to investigate illegal internet practices. He fought against government waste and corruption with his investigation of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.[12]

However, Cornyn was criticized for failing to investigate in a timely manner the notorious false drug convictions of numerous African-Americans in Tulia, Texas. An Austin Chronicle article on September 6, 2002, noted, "After months of criticism from civil rights groups and state and national media, state attorney general and U.S. Senate candidate John Cornyn announced that his office will finally investigate the notorious 1999 drug bust in the Panhandle town of Tulia. In most cases, the testimony of a single narcotics agent led to the arrests of 46 people—43 of whom were black. The accused represented 16% of the town's black population; 14 still languish in prisons scattered around Texas".[13]

In 2005 Cornyn's name was mentioned among possibilities to replace Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O'Connor or William Rehnquist.[14]

United States Senate[edit]

Elections[edit]

2002

In the 2002 U.S. Senate Primary in Texas, Cornyn was the candidate promoted and supported by the Texas Republican Party. He easily defeated the five other candidates in the Republican Primary while disdaining the opportunity to debate the other candidates. Cornyn defeated his closest Republican challenger, Bruce Rusty Lang, a self-financed Dallas-based international physician, in the Republican Primary election by a ten to one electoral margin. In the 2002 General election, Cornyn defeated Democrat Ron Kirk in a campaign that cost each candidate over $18 million.[citation needed] Cornyn's predecessor, Phil Gramm, resigned early, effective November 30, 2002, so that Senator-Elect Cornyn could take office early, and move into Gramm's office suite in order to begin organizing his staff. Cornyn did not, however, gain seniority, owing to a 1980 Rules Committee policy that no longer gave seniority to senators who entered Congress early for the purpose of gaining advantageous office space.

2008

Texas has not elected a Democrat in a statewide election since 1994, and according to Rasmussen polling, in October 2008 Cornyn had an approval rating of 50%.[15] Texas House of Representatives member/Afghanistan War veteran Rick Noriega secured his place as Cornyn's Democratic challenger in the March 4 primary, beating out opponents Gene Kelly, Ray McMurrey, and Rhett Smith. The same Rasmussen poll showed Cornyn leading Noriega 47% to 43%, suggesting that this race might have proved to be unexpectedly competitive. However, most polls showed a much wider margin. Christian activist Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, was a Republican challenger for the March 2008 primary election, but Cornyn easily won the Republican Primary.[16]

Yvonne Adams Schick was the Libertarian Party's nominee.[17] In addition, the Green Party of Texas sought ballot access for its candidate David B. Collins.[18]


2014
John Cornyn speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Cornyn will be running for reelection in 2014.[19] He won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote.

Tenure[edit]

In 2004 Cornyn co-founded and became the co-chairman of the U.S. Senate India Caucus.[20] Cornyn was selected by his colleagues in December 2006 to be a member of the five-person Republican Senate leadership team as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.[21]

Cornyn has received various awards and recognitions, including the 2005 Border Texan of the Year Award; the National Child Support Enforcement Association's Children's Champion Award; the American Farm Bureau Federation's Friend of Farm Bureau Award; the Texas Association of Business's (TAB) Fighter for Free Enterprise Award; the National Federation of Independent Business's (NFIB) Guardian of Small Business Award; the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders's (CONLAMIC) Latino Leadership Award; and the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce's (TAMACC) International Leadership Legislative Award; among others.[citation needed]

In 2005 Cornyn gained notice by connecting the Supreme Court's reluctance to hear arguments for sustaining Terri Schiavo's life with the recent murders of Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother as well as the courtroom murder of Judge Rowland Barnes. Cornyn said: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and building up to the point where some people engage in violence".[22] His statement and a similar one by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were widely denounced, including by the New York Times.[23] Cornyn later said that he regretted the statement.[24]

In 2005 the Project On Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, presented Cornyn and Senator Patrick Leahy with its first ever Bi-Partisan Leadership Award in honor of their cooperation on issues of government oversight and transparency, including their co-sponsorship of the OPEN Government Act of 2005, which prevented burying exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act in legislation.[25]

Cornyn has been described by Jim Jubak of MSN Money as one of "Big Oil's ten favorite members of Congress", as he has received more money from the oil and gas industry than all but six other members of Congress.[26]

On the day of Obama's inauguration, it was reported that Cornyn would prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from being confirmed as secretary of state by a unanimous floor vote that day. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman reported to the Associated Press that a roll call vote would be held instead on the following day, January 21, 2009, for the Clinton confirmation and that it was expected Clinton would "receive overwhelming bipartisan support".[27] The vote was 94–2 in her favor, with only Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and David Vitter (R-LA) voting in opposition.[28]

As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn was a strong supporter of Norm Coleman's various court challenges to the election certification.[29] Cornyn advocated for Coleman to bring the case before the federal court, and had said the trial and appeals could take years to complete.[30] Cornyn had threatened that Republicans would wage a "World War III" if the Senate Democrats had attempted to seat Democratic candidate Al Franken before the appeals were complete.[31] Coleman conceded after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Democratic candidate Al Franken. On November 14, 2012, Cornyn was elected Senate minority whip by his peers.[32]

In February 2013, Cornyn became one of the sponsors of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act to expedite open access to taxpayer-funded research.[33]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Cornyn was ranked by National Journal as the fourteenth-most conservative United States Senator in their 2013 rankings.[34] He was considered by The Dallas Morning News to be a reliable ally of former President George W. Bush on most issues.[35]

Civil rights and law enforcement[edit]

In the 2004 debate surrounding the Federal Marriage Amendment, Cornyn released an advance copy of a speech he was to give at the Heritage Foundation. In the speech, he wrote, "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right...Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife". He removed the reference to the box turtle in the actual speech, but the Washington Post ran the quote, as did The Daily Show.[36][37]

Cornyn sponsored a bill that would allow law enforcement to force anyone arrested or detained by federal authorities to provide samples of their DNA, which would be recorded in a central database.[38] He voted to recommend a constitutional ban on flag desecration and for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He also voted for the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act and extending its wiretap provision.

Defense and homeland security[edit]

Cornyn was one of only 22 Senators to vote against the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 that expands the educational benefits for soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.[39] Instead, he co-sponsored SB 2938, which gives benefits that are dependent on length of service.[citation needed]

In August 2012, following news reports that a Russian Akula-class nuclear-powered submarine operated in the Gulf of Mexico purportedly undetected for over a month, Cornyn demanded details of this deployment from Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations.[40]

In 2013 Cornyn said that, despite the sequester, the Pentagon would actually see its budget increase.[41]

Social policy[edit]

He voted to ban partial-birth abortions except in cases where the mother's life was in danger, and for a criminal penalty for harming a fetus while committing another crime. He also voted in favor of notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. He voted against expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.[42] He voted to prevent contributions to organizations that provide abortion as a component of family planning, and to prevent funding of organizations that support coercive abortion.[43]

Cornyn voted to confirm Samuel Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and John Roberts for Chief Justice of the United States.[42] In September 2005, during the Supreme Court hearings for Roberts, Cornyn's staff passed out bingo cards to reporters. He asked them to stamp their card every time a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee used terms such as "far right" or "extremist".[44]

On July 24, 2009, Cornyn announced his intention to vote against President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, citing his opinion that she might rule "from a liberal, activist perspective".[45]

Fiscal policy[edit]

John Cornyn voted to permanently repeal the estate tax and for raising the estate tax exemption to $5 million. He voted in favor of $350 billion in tax cuts over 11 years and supports making the George W. Bush tax cuts permanent.[42] However, he stands opposed to extending the 2011 payroll tax holiday.[46]

Cornyn is a cosponsor of the Fair Tax Act of 2007.[47] John Cornyn also voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 but against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

In 2005 Cornyn voted against including oil and gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. He voted against factoring global warming into federal project planning, and against banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also voted against removing oil and gas exploration subsidies.[42] During his tenure in the Senate, Cornyn has scored 0% on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard, a system of ranking politicians according to their voting record on environmental legislation.[48]

Cornyn opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) in December 2009,[49] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[50] Cornyn stated that Senator Cruz's efforts to defund Obamacare were "unachievable". He also stated: "The shutdown did not help our cause. What did help our cause was the president’s implementation of Obamacare, which has overwhelmed everything else. I don’t hear anyone thinking that another government shutdown is the way to achieve our goals."[51]

Cornyn joined other Republican leaders to block fellow Texas Senator Ted Cruz's procedural move to reject an increase in the debt ceiling[52]

Cornyn voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008 also known as the Wall Street bailout, and later voted to end the program.[53]

Gun rights[edit]

In April 2013, Senator Cornyn was one of 46 senators to vote against the passing of a bill which would have expanded background checks for all buyers. Cornyn voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the passage of the bill. The New York Times gave a 1% chance of Senator Cornyn voting Yea on the bill.[54]

In January 2014, Senator Cornyn introduced the "Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act". The bill would provide interstate reciprocity for persons with concealed weapons permits. Cornyn described the bill as "It’s like a driver’s license. It doesn’t trump state laws. Say you have a carry permit in Texas; then you use it in another state that has a concealed-carry law.” [55] He is rated "A" by the National Rifle Association.[42]

Electoral history[edit]

Texas U.S. Senate Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Cornyn (incumbent) 4,326,639 54.80
Democratic Rick Noriega 3,383,890 42.86
Libertarian Yvonne Adams Schick 184,729 2.34
Texas U.S. Senate Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Cornyn 2,480,991 54.7
Democratic Ron Kirk 1,946,681 43.3
Libertarian Scott Jameson 35,538 0.78
Green Roy Williams 25,051 0.55

Personal life[edit]

Cornyn and his wife, Sandy Hansen, have two daughters.

Cornyn gained national attention when he released a video referring to himself as "Big Bad John". The video was featured on comedy shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2003 Congressional Record, Vol. 149, Page S1
  2. ^ NRSC.org website
  3. ^ "Rootsweb Senatorial Genealogies". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  4. ^ The American School in Japan
  5. ^ "U.S. Senator To Address Trinity University Undergraduates". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Alumni Association Foundation – Chi Delta Tau". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Senator John Cornyn to Speak at Opening of Center for Terrorism Law as St. Mary's University School of Law". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Alumni in the News, 2002". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  9. ^ Our Campaigns – TX Attorney General – R Primary Race – Mar 10, 1998
  10. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=222670
  11. ^ Our Campaigns – TX Attorney General Race – Nov 03, 1998
  12. ^ Online NewsHour: The Texas Senate Race – John Cornyn Biography
  13. ^ Apple, Lauri (6 September 2002). "Tulia, Too Late". The Auston Chronicle. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Possible Nominees to the Supreme Court". The Washington Post. July 1, 2005. 
  15. ^ Rasmussen Reports on Texas
  16. ^ "Noriega avoids runoff in Senate bid; Cornyn wins easily", The Dallas Morning News
  17. ^ Libertarian Party of Texas website
  18. ^ Txgreens.org
  19. ^ "Senate GOP leaders look outside as they run for re-election". CNN. July 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "India Caucus formed in US Senate". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Senate Republican Conference: About the SRC". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  22. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, p. 248. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-51640-2
  23. ^ "The Judges Made Them Do It". The New York Times. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Judge, her family slain, urges home security for jurists". CNN. 19 May 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "Good Government Award Home Page", retrieved July 1, 2010
  26. ^ "Big Oil's 10 favorite members of Congress". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  27. ^ Comcast.net article on Hillary Clinton confirmation as Secretary of State
  28. ^ CNN broadcast, The Situation Room, January 21, 2009
  29. ^ Raju, Manu (2009-03-17). "GOP eyes Bush v. Gore for Coleman". Politico. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  30. ^ Hasen, Richard (2009-03-18). "Franken's Monster Will Bush v. Gore bite Democrats in Coleman v. Franken?". Slate. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  31. ^ Raju, Manu (March 30, 2009). "In Minnesota, it's still November". Politico. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  32. ^ Cornyn gets GOP’s No. 2 Senate post | www.statesman.com
  33. ^ Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Mike Doyle and Kevin Yoder Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Federally Funded Research – Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
  34. ^ "National Journal: 2013 Vote Ratings". 
  35. ^ "Bush rallies immigration bill's GOP foes", The Dallas Morning News June 13, 2006
  36. ^ Romano, Lois (July 12, 2004). "In Oklahoma, GOP Race Not a Given". The Washington Post. 
  37. ^ "The Boys in the Ban". Retrieved Apr 4, 2014. 
  38. ^ Washington Post Article, 9/23/05
  39. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress – 2nd Session". U.S. Senate. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  40. ^ Gertz, Bill (August 14, 2012). "Silent Running". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 2012-10-04. "Of the submarine activity, Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “It’s a confounding situation arising from a lack of leadership in our dealings with Moscow. While the president is touting our supposed ‘reset’ in relations with Russia, Vladimir Putin is actively working against American interests, whether it’s in Syria or here in our own backyard.”" ; Gertz, Bill (August 21, 2012). "Torpedo Run". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 2012-10-04. "“The submarine patrol, taken together with the air incursions, seems to represent a more aggressive and destabilizing Russian military stance that could pose risks to our national security,” Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) stated in an Aug. 17 letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert." ; "Reports of Russian sub in gulf downplayed". UPI. August 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-04. "Russia declined to confirm or deny a media report that one of its submarines spent a month in the Gulf of Mexico without the knowledge of the United States." ; and "Russian submarine sailed incognito along the coast of the U.S.". Pravda. August 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-04. "Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Sunday sent the letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert requesting more information on the purported incident." 
  41. ^ "Top Senate Republican doubts damage from defense cuts."
  42. ^ a b c d e "John Cornyn on the Issues". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  43. ^ "Votes by John Cornyn". Congress votes database (Washington Post). Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  44. ^ Milbank, Dana (September 16, 2005). "Final Day of Nomination Hearings: Yawn.". The Washington Post. 
  45. ^ Elpasotimes.com
  46. ^ "Top Republican opposes extending U.S. payroll tax cut (Reuters)". November 7, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  47. ^ "S. 1025: Fair Tax Act of 2007 (GovTrack.us)". Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  48. ^ "LCV_2006_Scorecard_final.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved September 19, 2007. 
  49. ^ senate.gov
  50. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home". Senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  51. ^ Lavender, Paige (December 10, 2013). "GOP Senator: Cruz Effort Was 'Not Achievable'". Huffington Post. 
  52. ^ "Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote"
  53. ^ "Politifact-Texas". Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  54. ^ Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times. 
  55. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/15/concealed-carry-gun-reciprocity-2014-bill-senate/?page=all#pagebreak

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Dan Morales
Attorney General of Texas
January 13, 1999 – December 1, 2002
Succeeded by
Greg Abbott
United States Senate
Preceded by
Phil Gramm
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
2002–present
Served alongside: Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ted Cruz
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
2007–2009
Succeeded by
John Thune
Preceded by
John Ensign
Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
2009–2013
Succeeded by
Jerry Moran
Preceded by
Jon Kyl
Republican Senate Whip
2013–present
Succeeded by
incumbent
Preceded by
Phil Gramm
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Texas
(Class 2)

2002, 2008, 2014
Succeeded by
Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lamar Alexander
R-Tennessee
United States Senators by seniority
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Succeeded by
Mark Pryor
D-Arkansas