AUSTIN, Texas — Attorney and immigration activist Linda Vega announced Wednesday she will challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in next year's Republican primary.
The founder of her own Houston-area law firm, Vega says a centerpiece of her campaign will be overhauling America's immigration system, which she says is currently so flawed that it hurts business interests.
Cornyn has been in office since 2002 and had for months avoided a credible conservative challenger for the March GOP primary. Meanwhile, no Democrat has announced for Senate for the November 2014 general election.
One of nine children, Vega was born in Weslaco, near the Texas-Mexico border. She graduated from the University of Texas and the George Washington Law School in Washington.
"In Texas, we are a free people," Vega said in her announcement speech. "We will fight hard to make sure [President] Obama and his policies don't take away our freedom."
Cornyn's campaign raised $1.8 million in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. It said Wednesday that that ranks second among all GOP Senate incumbents — and that Cornyn's $6.9 million in cash-on-hand is third-highest among all Senate candidates from both parties.
Brendan Steinhauser, Cornyn's campaign manager, responded in a statement Wednesday: "As the 2nd most conservative senator in America, Sen. Cornyn looks forward to discussing his record and welcomes Ms. Vega into the race."
Last year, National Journal ranked Cornyn second most-conservative behind Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho. Texas' other senator, freshman Ted Cruz, hadn't yet joined the body and was therefore not included in the most recent ranking.