Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest Republican member of the Senate, has drawn a 2014 primary challenger.
Erick Wyatt of Rockport, Texas filed papers this week with the Federal Election Commission to run for Senate against Cornyn, the Senate Minority Whip, who is up for re-election in 2014.
Cornyn is seen as vulnerable to a challenge from the right, and has said he’s been expecting and preparing for a primary battle. He was one of just three senators who voted against John Kerry’s confirmation as Secretary of State. He cast the vote with Texas’ junior senator, tea party favorite Ted Cruz, leading the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to accuse him of being in “Cruz control” in an attempt to gird himself against a primary.
Wyatt describes himself as more conservative than Cornyn, and an “ally” of the tea party. But asked why he’s running, in a phone interview with The Daily Caller, Wyatt’s first answer is that “Not enough is being done for our veterans.” Wyatt served in the Army for 10 years and the Coast Guard for four years. He was injured in Iraq in 2007. In 2012, he received temporary disability retirement.
“I’m a very big constitutional conservative and believe we have our God given rights,” he said.
“I’m tired of them getting stomped on … I fought for the constitution and I fought for America and I’m not gonna let them get trampled if I can do anything about it,” he went on.
“More than anything it’s a challenge from a veteran, but I do ally myself very closely with the tea party,” he explained. “I’m a mixture of both.” To that point, the background of his web page is an American flag with “We the people” scrawled across it.
His “one really huge issue with Sen. Cornyn,” he said, is that the senator voted against a 2012 bill that would have added autism coverage to the healthcare benefits provided to military families. Wyatt says it is a personal issue for him because his stepson has autism.
“That really hurt me a lot,” he said.
He says he’s also more conservative than Cornyn is, and touts the importance of “getting some younger blood in the Senate.” Without it, he says, “the Republican party is going to keep struggling.”
Wyatt says has been thinking about a Senate run for several years, ever since he found out he was going to receive temporary disability retirement from the army.