Rep. Steven Stockman (R-Texas) has launched a surprise, last-hour, primary challenge to the nation’s second-most conservative senator. Why? Because the latter is too liberal.
“You are in a foxhole fighting to save our constitutional Republic … and the last thing you need is a Republican bayonet in your back. But that’s what liberal John Cornyn has been doing to you every day,” Stockman, a Houston-area Republican, said in an announcement letter posted to his website, in which he called Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) a “liberal” 23 times.
Stockman’s campaign strategy is clear: Fling the word “liberal” around just enough to scare Texas voters into giving him lots of money. And he definitely needs lots of money. Right now, Stockman has just $32,000 in his House campaign account while Cornyn has just under $7 million. To quote the aforementioned letter, he has “less than 90 days to match him toe-to-to [sic].”
To match Cornyn, Stockman would have to raise almost $78 thousand dollars a day for the remainder of the primary season. Calling Cornyn the L-word that many times in three months could make Molly Ivins roll over in her grave.
But if we are using Stockman as the measuring stick for conservatism, perhaps Cornyn really is a flaming liberal. After all, Stockman is the man who invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address last year and once said that Democrats “worship abortion with [the] same fervor the Canaanites worshipped Molech.”
Oh, and Stockman doesn’t just protect the Second Amendment — he helps you exercise it:
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@StockmanSenate) May 8, 2013
Cornyn, for his part, doesn’t seem to be batting an eye.
“While Mr. Stockman is a fascinating person, there’s no guarantee that he’s actually going to be competitive in the primary,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle. “So, I’m going to be paying equal attention to all my primary opponents.”
His other primary opponents include a former oil refinery worker, a conservative radio host and a couple of other people you’ve never heard of. In other words, Cornyn won’t be paying Stockman much attention.
While Stockman has almost no chance of winning, he will push Cornyn even further to the right in an attempt to save face, despite the fact that Cornyn has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and a 93.8 on the National Journal’s “Composite Conservative Score.” These distinctions give him that shiny title of second-most conservative U.S. senator, yet his failure to support fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s fake-filibuster against Obamacare still built up a bit of resentment among the rightmost wing of the Republican Party. And Stockman is wasting no time playing that up, saying in his announcement that Cornyn “betrayed Ted Cruz by abandoning Republicans during the Obamacare filibuster.”
Regardless, even the most conservative of political donation machines don’t seem to be interested in donating to Stockman. Two groups that often fund primary opponents to incumbent senators — the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project — both expressed approval of the challenge, but didn’t commit to donating money. The similarly-minded Club for Growth pointed out the lack of “viability” to the Stockman race and, despite the organization’s well-lined pockets, said they were unlikely “to be involved in the Texas Senate race.”
Without the backing of such large organizations, it’s doubtful that Stockman will cause a big ruckus before the March 4 primary. After all, if he can’t manage to find a copy editor to spell check the announcement of his candidacy, it’s doubtful he can effectively distribute his message to a media market as expensive and expansive as Texas’s. Running an ad in one of Texas’ media markets would probably tap out Stockman’s existing funds — and Texas has 20 media markets.
Depending on your political persuasion, the bright spot in all of this mess is that, because Stockman withdrew from his reelection campaign to challenge Cornyn, his inevitable defeat means he’ll be taking a break from office, at least for a little while.