Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) announced that he’ll challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) as the minority whip seeks re-election in 2014.
Stockman, serving his second non-consecutive term in the House, will not run for a third term so he can focus on the primary challenge.
“You and I are in a foxhole fighting to save this constitutional Republic, but liberal John Cornyn is bayoneting us in the back,” said Stockman in his announcement. “Liberal John Cornyn betrayed Ted Cruz and worked with Harry Reid to fund Obamacare.”
In this spring’s National Journal tabulation of how conservative members of the Senate are based on voting records, Cornyn came in No. 2.
In his 2002 election and 2008 re-election, Cornyn beat his Democratic challenger by double digits. The former Texas attorney general was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2007-2011.
“Liberal John Cornyn wakes up every morning and works to make the Senate a more liberal place. That’s why I am running for the United States Senate. I have a 100% pro-gun, pro-life, conservative voting record in Congress,” Stockman continued. “Liberal John Cornyn can’t run on his record, so he will start smearing and attacking me from day one.”
Stockman compared himself to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has not endorsed his colleague for re-election and had no immediate reaction to Stockman’s announcement. His communications director, Sean Rushton, said, “As the senator has said many times, he will likely not get involved in any incumbent primaries.”
Stockman is known for his highly opinionated Twitter feed — he recently said that chlamydia is more popular than Obamacare — and for being one of 10 House members to vote against John Boehner (R-Ohio) for speaker of the House. He has introduced a handful of bills in the 113th Congress dealing largely with the Second Amendment, as well as a bill to audit the Fed, but none of his legislation has attracted more than a handful of co-sponsors and none of the bills have passed.
“As my friend Ted Cruz proved, Texans want conservative champions to represent them in the United States Senate,” Stockman said. “No one has been a more fearless conservative in Congress than I.”
Cornyn didn’t address the challenge this morning, noting wryly on his Twitter feed that the federal government was shutting down because of “36 degrees; light rain.”
His campaign spokesman, Drew Brandewie, gave an indication in repeated Twitter posts about where Cornyn will hit at Stockman.
“Rep. Stockman is so opposed to Obamacare he exempted his staff from it while Texans forced onto exchanges,” Brandewie noted. “Open-government champion Rep. Steve Stockman won’t file financial disclosure forms required by House rules.”
“Fiscal conservative Rep. Steve Stockman has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Fiscal conservative Rep. Stockman’s campaign is $163,000 in debt.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to support Tea Party candidates, has been opposing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) re-election but declined to say whether Stockman has their backing.
“We haven’t decided yet whether we will endorse Steve Stockman, but we’re glad he’s running,” said Matt Hoskins, the executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a statement. “Texas deserves two conservative fighters in the Senate, not just one. John Cornyn has voted to increase the debt, raise taxes, bail out Wall Street banks, and fund Obamacare. He’s part of the problem in Washington and voters deserve a choice.”
The conservative Club for Growth, meanwhile, said it’s not going to jump into the race.
“While Congressman Stockman has a pro-economic growth record, so does Senator Cornyn, as witnessed by his 87% lifetime Club for Growth score,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement. “Our PAC evaluates three factors when looking at races that involve incumbents: 1) the strength of the incumbent’s record; 2) the degree of difference between the incumbent and the challenger on economic issues; and 3) the viability of the challenger. None of those factors weigh against Senator Cornyn, so we do not expect to be involved in the Texas Senate race.”