The Tea Party-friendly Club for Growth has released its annual scorecard for lawmakers. In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn faces primarying from three opponents, including GOP Rep. Steve Stockman. Stockman claims that he is representing the Tea Party, though no Tea Party group has endorsed him to date. One of Cornyn’s primary opponents, Dwayne Stovall, has earned a Tea Party endorsement.
Add to that, the fact that the Club for Growth rates Stockman as less conservative than Cornyn.
According to the Club’s scorecard, Cornyn is the 8th most conservative senator. He has a 93% conservative rating (88% lifetime). Over in the House, Rep. Stockman ranks 39th. That’s on a par with Cornyn’s ranking in the Senate, as there are fewer senators than representatives. But Stockman’s conservative rating comes in at 87%, six points less than Cornyn on the most recent congressional session, and 87% lifetime. That’s not a whole lot of daylight between the candidates. There may be some other reason or reasons to support one of more of Cornyn’s challengers, but voting records don’t support claims that Stockman is more conservative.
Just so readers know where I’m coming from, I don’t endorse in GOP primaries, though I may explain how I vote once I’ve voted. I have no objection in principle to primarying incumbent Republicans, in fact, it’s often a good thing. Power and Washington (or Austin, or the county seat) are seductive. Letting incumbents know that they can and will be primaried is a means of holding them accountable. Some incumbents richly deserve to be primaried and sent packing, taking their consultants with them. But I’m not in the “throw all incumbents out” camp, as not all incumbents are as bad as all other incumbents. Some of the are actually good, or at least less dangerous than others, and more qualified than some of their challengers. Likewise, not all challengers are challenging for noble reasons, and not all challengers are capable of holding things together well enough to win a general election. We have to be shrewd in choosing which incumbents we choose to primary, and which of their challengers deserve backing. Every movement of any size attracts false prophets before long. I’m not specifying that there is a false prophet in this race. I’m just noting that just as not all incumbents are automatically devils, not all challengers are angels.
Having heard a million speeches, I’ve become all too aware that anybody can say anything to get elected. That goes for incumbents and challengers alike, in all political parties.