- Yesterday, Representative Steve Stockman posted a letter on his website. It began, "Dear patriot, 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."
- That would be the Liberal John Cornyn, who prefers to be called "Big Bad John" and happens to have an 88-percent rating from the American Conservative Union. The Texas senator's office also says—oh so proudly—that he is "ranked as the second most conservative senator in America."
- Although Cornyn did tell Texas Monthly, "I love Robert Caro’s books, and I wish we had more Lyndon Johnsons in the Senate today when it comes to the skill to actually get something done." One can easily observe, after scanning a few sequester and shutdown headlines, that getting things done is perhaps not a conservative strength. Maybe Stockman's complaints originate not with ideology, but with legislative efficiency and enjoyment of languorous history books?
- If you don't speak Tea Party Texan, Stockman's message roughly translates to ... "Dear America, This is going to be an entertaining, and perhaps somewhat terrifying, election." Or, as Sarah Posner sees it, "In Texas you must now out-Cruz Ted Cruz."
- Ted Cruz, by the way, wants nothing to do with this.
- And based on Club for Growth's initial response, it seems unlikely that many of the big conservative campaign cash cows are going to get involved in this war at the very edge of the ideological spectrum.
- Let's recap the greatest (or worst, depending on what floats your boat) moments in the Stockman canon (and no, that is not a pun).
- First off, his Twitter presence. He's been known to say a controversial thing or two, and is subjectively known as "everyone's favorite tweeter in Congress." Like, "Conservatives see kids in poverty and want to find the family jobs. Liberals see kids in poverty and say they should have been aborted."
- Or, "Our campaign bumper sticker: If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted. http://stockman2014.com #gosnell #tcot"
- Or, "About 110,000 people contract chlamydia each month, more than signed up for Obamacare. Obamacare is less popular than chlamydia."
- Or, "Democrats just curb-stomped veterans. Because Obama told them to."
- Or his festive Earth Day tweet, "The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out."
- When the representative was discussing Obama's gun policies on Fox News, he said “He’s even using children, it reminds me of Saddam Hussein when he used kids to ..." Greta Van Susteren quickly cut him off: “Well, I think that’s a little bit of a stretch, but anyway, congressman, always nice to see you."
- In the past year, as recounted by Molly Ball, "He brought Ted Nugent as his date to the State of the Union and raffled an AR-15 for the Fourth of July."
- Or, as Tim Murphy sums him up, he's "almost certainly the only member of Congress to have been caught with 30 mg of valium hidden in a cellophane wrapper in his underwear. He's defended militia groups; accused an attorney general of 'premeditated murder'; appeared on a Holocaust-denying radio program; waged a one-man war against Alfred Kinsey; compared his constituents—favorably—to Branch Davidians; and traveled to Denmark to protest climate change while wearing a red blindfold. The man who bested his 2012 opponent by 44 points isn't the most ballyhooed of incoming lawmakers. He's just the nuttiest."
- So ... why is Stockman doing this? The fact that he only has about $32,000 in the campaign bank and $163,000 in campaign debt thus far this electoral season may be partly to blame.
- And this race could have bigger ramifications than whether the seat will be filled by a conservative or a conservative. As John Sides notes, "The issue is that, in general, the party would be better off — that is, it would control more seats and be better-positioned to steer policy — if it could discourage primary challengers in races where negative consequences are more likely. And Stockman’s example — particularly if successful — may only reinforce the desire of other conservatives in the party to mount similar challenges." And, outside of Texas, extreme candidacies don't usually fare terribly well.
- Regardless of how the senate race turns out, the candidates who filed last minute to run for Stockman's congressional seat are likely mighty pleased.
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