In what must have been a surprise to all but the little voices in his head, Steve Stockman, Republican Representative from Texas' 36th District, withdrew his candidacy for re-election and instead filed to challenge Senator John Cornyn in the March Primary election.
This move, no doubt, has incited panic in Stockman's supporters, who know that Representative Stockman is the only thing standing between them and President Obama's plot to seize their guns, gay-marry and abort them.
The second-time one-term Congressman, a back-bencher's back-bencher, must have been convinced that with recent press coverage of his ethical and financial problems, re-election is not an option, if it ever was, and that he must resort to his standard practice of skulking into office.
Stockman's last minute filing puts him into a crowded field of unknown loons who hope to outflank Paleo-Conservative incumbent John Cornyn on the extreme-far-out fringe of the right wing, as Ted Cruz did to establishment Republican plutocrat David Dewhurst in 2012. This is a popular move this year, with six of twenty-four Texas Republicans facing tea-party primary challengers in their otherwise-safe districts. The Chronicle reports that the tea party Conservative Senate Fund tried to recruit Congressman Louis Gohmert to primary Cornyn, but that Gohmert declined. Get that?, Gohmert's not 'that crazy.' Conservative Senate Fund's Matt Hoskins said: "Cornyn has voted to increase the debt, raise taxes, bail out Wall Street banks, and fund Obamacare. He's become part of the problem in Washington." Yeah, I'll go with the 'problem' part but Cornyn a liberal? The American Conservative Union calls him the second-most conservative Senate member. The Club for Growth gives him an 87% score on his voting record, and after Cruz's election he has swung even further to the right, voting against Republican Chuck Hegel's appointment as Defense Secretary and against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy.
Stockman's m.o. is the stealth election. He came out of nowhere in 1994 to defeat long-serving Jack Brooks of Beaumont after East Texans were angered by his vote for the assault weapons ban, only to be turned-out after one term, probably because even his East Texas constituents were creeped-out to his association with the Michigan Militia after the Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, including nineteen children. In 2011 he managed a second-place finish in a crowded field seeking the newly created 36th District seat, and won the Republican nomination, which was tantamount to election in the Republican-drawn district, with votes from right-wing latahs who remembered his name but forgot why they remembered it.
Could Stockman catch tea-party lightning in a bottle like Rafael Ernesto Cruz did? Hardly. Cruz got an ivy league law degree, married a Goldman Sachs executive, and worked for right-wing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. He ran for an open seat with money from South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, and Goldman Sachs. Cornyn has headed the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, which doles out money to Senate candidates nationwide, and has $7 million in his own war chest. Stockman reportedly has $30,000 in his, (if you can trust his numbers, the FEC is probably looking into that now.) He is so broke, he's had campaign volunteers living in an old motorcycle shop, (now condemned) eating MREs and sleeping in sleeping bags, and has had to fire two staffers for writing him phony checks in the name of 'straw donors.'
Stockman may not have a prayer in this race, but he probably knows that. He may be taking a cue from Newt Gingrich, who showed that being a losing candidate can still generate good cash flow. As blogger Charles Kuffner said of Stockman: "Once a grifter, always a grifter." For once, I wish Mr. Stockman success in his latest endeavor, I hope Republicans nominate him for the Senate race. It could be a boon for Democrats, like having Caribou Barbie at the top of the ticket.