By Patrick Svitek
MJ Hegar, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced Wednesday that she raised over $13.5 million in the third quarter, a massive improvement over her previous hauls.
The $13.5 million is nearly eight times more than what she raised during her previous best quarter. That was $1.7 million in the second quarter of this year.
The fundraising bonanza left Hegar with over $8 million cash on hand at the end of this month, her campaign said. Cornyn, who has had a decisive financial advantage from the start, had $14.5 million in the bank at the end of June.
Still, Hegar's latest fundraising puts her into financial competition with Cornyn in a way she never was before. For over a year, as she fought for her party's nomination to challenge Cornyn, Hegar's cash on hand remained a small fraction of his.
The third quarter saw Hegar win the nomination in a July 14 primary runoff against state Sen. Royce West of Dallas. She raised over $1 million in the week after the runoff victory, according to her campaign.
Cornyn has not released any fundraising numbers for the third quarter, which ends Wednesday. They face an Oct. 15 deadline to disclose their full third-quarter finances to the Federal Election Commission.
While Cornyn has not shared his third-quarter haul yet, Hegar's $13.5 million easily eclipses his previous best quarter this election cycle, which was $3.5 million in the second quarter of this year.
Hegar's third-quarter fundraising also tops the $12 million that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz raised during the same period in 2018 during his blockbuster race against Democrat Beto O'Rourke. O'Rourke raked in a record-breaking $38.1 million that quarter.
Hegar has already been putting the new money to use with a statewide TV ad blitz. Her campaign noted she is airing ads on broadcast in nine of the state's top markets: Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Harlingen, Waco, Tyler and Corpus Christi.
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A big-money bird has been stolen from a northwest Austin pet store.
Kelsey Fernandez, the owner of a $6,000 sulphur and citron-crested cockatoo named Lemon Grab, said the emotional support animal was taken from the Gallery of Pets store, around closing time on Sunday.
"I've struggled with mental illness my entire life, and ever since I got him I've been doing so much better," Fernandez told Austonia.
The $6k cockatoo is young and will starve unless he is fed by hand, Fernandez said.
In a surveillance video, a man appears to have something under his shirt as he and two others exit the business around the same time the store believes that Lemon Grab was stolen.
Fernandez said a report has been filed with the Austin Police Department with an $1,000 reward for his return.
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Introverts and personal space lovers may not want to make the move to Austin anytime soon: The Texas capital saw a bigger increase in one-bedroom rent prices than almost any other U.S. city in April, according to a Rent.com report.
Austin's one-bedroom rent has more than doubled—a 112% increase—from April 2021 to 2022, the report said. Only Oklahoma City saw a higher year-over-year increase with a 133% jump.
Austin also had the fourth-highest increase in two-bedroom rent, with a 50% increase in the past year. The city joined a nationwide trend where rents were up 8.3% year-over-year across the U.S, a trend exacerbated by a 6.2% increase in inflation in the same time period.
But "not everyone is experiencing inflation the same way," Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said in the report, and a brunt of the load has gone to cities with more move-ins. While over 90% of state rental markets increased in the last year, that jump was seen most in Sun Belt states, including Texas, Arizona and Florida.
Even with breakneck increases in rent, however, Austin's rent prices still haven't cracked the top 10: the city's one-bedroom apartments are the 12th most expensive in the nation with an average price of $2,918. Meanwhile, its two-bedrooms fall behind Texas cities Frisco, Dallas and Plano and come out 34th on the list with a $2,302 average monthly rent.
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