John Cornyn

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-2934 (Main phone number)
Telephone:512-494-8535 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Houston, TX
Residence:Austin, TX
Religion:Church of Christ
First Elected:2002


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: Trinity University


Graduate education: St. Mary's University


Graduate education: University of Virginia


John Cornyn was born in Houston and lives in Austin, Texas. He graduated from high school in Japan, where his father was stationed with the Air Force.

Cornyn earned a bachelor's in journalism at Trinity University in 1973. After graduation, he worked as a waiter, pursued a real estate license and then worked as a real estate salesman before entering law school.

Cornyn earned a law degree in 1977 from St. Mary's University. He then joined the law firm of Groce, Locke and Hebdon, where he eventually made partner.

Cornyn served as a Bexar County district court judge from 1984 to 1989, when he was appointed a presiding judge of the 4th Administrative Judicial Region.

He served as a state Supreme Court Justice from 1990 to 1998. He was elected Texas Attorney General in 1998 and served until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Cornyn and his wife, Sandra, have two daughters.


John Cornyn has worked his way up the ladder in Washington to become one of the Senate's most outspoken conservatives criticizing virtually every policy or position held by President Barack Obama's administration. With the retirement of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012, Cornyn became the senior senator from Texas.

He wasted no time getting started in early 2009 when he became chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP's election arm in the Senate.

On Inauguration Day, just before President Obama's swearing-in, Cornyn delayed the confirmation of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, insisting on more information about foreign donations to a foundation headed by former President Bill Clinton.

Some saw Cornyn as a spoiler, but others saw him as a shrewd politician. The delay tactic pleased the GOP's conservative base and helped raise campaign money for Republicans — part of Cornyn's charge as NRSC chairman.

Cornyn also went after Democrat Al Franken, who was involved in an eight-month long recount battle with incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman. Coleman conceded the race in July 2009.

During his 2008 re-election campaign, the Texas Medical Association withdrew its endorsement of Cornyn because of his vote against a bill that would have prevented a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments. The association re-endorsed him after he changed his vote and voted to override President George W. Bush's veto of the bill.

He also took some heat from veterans because of his vote against a new GI Bill.

Cornyn was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and quickly moved up the power ladder. In his freshman year he was named chairman of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, an uncommon appointment for a freshman. By 2006, he had become the Republican conference vice chairman, the No. 5 position in Republican leadership.

Cornyn was involved in crafting comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2006 and 2007, but voted against the final bills both times amid criticism from conservatives that granting legal status to people in the country illegally was tantamount to amnesty. He also voted for building 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He joined with Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy in 2008 to pass a bill changing the Freedom of Information Act to improve government response times to requests.

Cornyn was a fierce opponent of the 2010 health care reform bill and has argued for repealing the legislation. He also called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down after the Nevada Democrat made racially insensitive remarks about President Obama.

Cornyn has earned a reputation for his ability to take on thorny political issues that rouse the conservative base — such as gay marriage — while graciously denouncing opponents.

But he drew some fire in 2005 when he made critical remarks on the Senate floor connecting the decisions of jurists with violence against them. The comments were seen as excusing violence against judges, though Cornyn said that was not what he meant.

Although Cornyn was not up for re-election in 2010, he weighed in on the Texas governor's race. He criticized Gov. Rick Perry for his harsh attacks on Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the March primaries, saying the governor unfairly portrayed Hutchison as a Washington insider who was out of step with Texas voters.

Committee Assignments: Judiciary; Finance; Budget; Armed Services

American Conservative Union Rating: 90

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 10


John Cornyn won his March 2014 primary, he will face David Alameel in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 6, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018