Republican Rep. Steve Stockman will primary Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.
With just 15 minutes to go until the filing deadline for the Senate race on Monday evening, an aide to Stockman withdrew the congressman’s papers to run for re-election and submitted new papers so that Stockman could run for Senate. Until then, it looked as though Cornyn would run largely unopposed.
“We are extremely disappointed in the way he treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined [Sen.] Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare,” Stockman told World Net Daily in an exclusive interview before he filed.
“And now, it looks like Cruz was right and Cornyn was wrong. He sided with the president, essentially, in making sure Obamacare became law while Cruz did everything possible to stop it,” he added.
“If you disagree with someone, that’s fine, but I really believe you should do it privately, not so publicly,” Stockman went on. “He made a big show of removing his name from a letter supporting Cruz.”
“I don’t know that I can beat him, but I am sure going to try … In Texas, conservative policies win over stabbing fellow Republicans in the back,” Stockman said.
Texas is a red state, and the primary will be the major competition. Cornyn has appeared to be preparing for a challenge all year. But as a member of Senate Republican leadership, he is potentially vulnerable to a challenge from the right along the lines of the one being mounted against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, largely supported by outside conservative groups.
Cornyn’s fellow Texas Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, whom many of those outside groups tout as an ideal of what a Senator should be, has praised Cornyn, but declined to endorse him. Reached for comment, Cruz’s press secretary Catherine Frazier told The Daily Caller that Cruz still felt he was “unlikely to get involved in incumbent primary races.”
“Endorsed by Texas Right to Life and ranked as the 2nd most conservative Senator in America, Senator Cornyn looks forward to discussing his conservative record with Texans,” said Brendan Steinhauser, Cornyn’s campaign manager, in a statement provided to TheDC.
Cornyn’s campaign war chest significantly dwarfs Stockman’s at the start: As of the last campaign filing with the FEC, Cornyn had $6,913,774 cash on hand and no campaign debt. Stockman had $32,027 cash on hand and $163,010 in debt. Stockman has also faced a string of campaign finance problems revealed recently: last month he fired two campaign aides who were revealed to have improperly contributed to his campaign, and a Houston Chronicle investigation found that he had failed to reveal businesses and financial ties in his congressional disclosure forms.
Stockman could be helped on the financial front if outside groups endorse him and get into the money race, as they did last year for Cruz. Senate Conservatives Fund, which is backing challengers to a number of incumbents, including McConnell, said they are undecided on Stockman.
“We haven’t decided yet whether we will endorse Steve Stockman, but we’re glad he is running,” SCF executive director Matt Hoskins told TheDC. “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 an alternative.”
The Madison Project, another such group said they were also undecided, but that “news of a primary challenger is quite welcome. The Madison Project hasn’t met with any challengers yet, but we are hopeful that someone will emerge as a viable and consistent conservative alternative.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee will stand behind Cornyn.
“John Cornyn is one of the most conservative Members in the Senate and strong leader for the state of Texas,” the NRSC said in a statement. “We are proud to support Senator Cornyn and while this primary challenge is quite the head scratcher, it will be defeated.”
Stockman’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.