GOP Rep Stockman to challenge Senator Cornyn in primary
This is a surprise given the lateness of the filing by Steve Stockman. Cornyn, who is considered insufficiently conservative by many on the right in Texas, was expected to breeze through to re-election.
Now, he's going to be in for a tough fight just to get the GOP nomination.
Firebrand Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman on Monday mounted a surprise primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), setting the stage for the latest potentially explosive battle between a tea party darling and an incumbent firmly backed by the GOP establishment.
Stockman, a far-right conservative who has called for the president's impeachment, filed for the seat minutes before the 6 p.m. local deadline, confirmed Spencer Yeldell, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas. Cornyn, whose $7 million cash-on-hand far outstrips Stockman's $32,000, is still the heavy favorite, but the latter's entry into the race could force the incumbent senator to tack farther right as he tries to win over a corner of the party that has recently been skeptical of him.
Stockman's move shocked Texas political observers: Cornyn had looked poised for an easy March 4 primary contest, where he was set to square off with several candidates with little name recognition. Just 20 minutes before the filing deadline, Texas GOP chair Steve Munisteri told POLITICO that he was "not expecting any recognizable names or people with substantial resources running aside from the senator."
But Stockman is a highly recognizable name in some circles, and he looks to be a game-changer. The 57-year-old made waves earlier this year when he returned to the House - where he previously served from 1995-1997 - with his calls to impeach President Barack Obama. And he's not been shy about his other deeply conservative, and sometimes controversial, views on issues ranging from gun rights to immigration. He has also likened Obama to Saddam Hussein and urged America to withdraw from the United Nations.
The Stockman-Cornyn match-up will be the latest in a series of contests that pits tea party-backed candidates against incumbents deemed insufficiently conservative by GOP purists. In Kentucky, for example, tea partiers have rallied around Matt Bevin, who is taking on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And in Mississippi, some conservatives are waging battle against incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran.
Democrats are not well positioned to take advantage of the GOP civil war in Texas or Mississippi, so the issue will not be electability. Allah has an interesting thought on Stockman's challenge:
Bigger conservative names in Texas had already passed on challenging Cornyn despite tea-party perceptions that he's an incorrigible RINO. Steve Stockman looked at what grassroots righties did for Ted Cruz against the much better-funded David Dewhurst last year and figured ... why not? What does he have to lose?
Stockman represents a very safe district, so indeed, why not take a shot? If he loses, he goes back to the House with his prestige enhanced.If he wins, he will probably become the junior senator from the state.
The congressman will be a decided underdog in the race, but money will undoubtedly come pouring in from across the country which will make Stockman competitive. He's got a late start but by the time the primary rolls around on March 4, he should be able to give Cornyn all he can handle.