The 2002 United States Senate election in Texas was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Phil Gramm decided to retire, instead of seeking a fourth term. Republican John Cornyn won the open seat.
Despite the fact that Texas is a red state, Kirk ran on a socially progressive platform: supporting abortion rights and opposing Bush judicial nominee Priscilla Owen, although Kirk was a former George W. Bush supporter. He also supported increases in defense spending, such as Bush's proposed $48 billion increase in military spending, except for the money Bush wanted to use for missile defense. Kirk had the support of former Governor Ann Richards and former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen.
Cornyn was criticized for taking campaign money from Enron and other controversial companies. And although other Democrats have seized on the issue, Kirk is well-entrenched in the Dallas business community, and his wife resigned from two private-sector jobs that created potential conflicts of interest for Kirk while he was mayor.
The race was close, as an October Dallas Morning News poll had Cornyn leading 47% to 37%. A record $18 million was spent in the election.