I love a food fight:
Firebrand Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman on Monday mounted a surprise primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), setting the stage for the latest potentially explosive battle between a tea party darling and an incumbent firmly backed by the GOP establishment.
Stockman, a far-right conservative who has called for the president’s impeachment, filed for the seat minutes before the 6 p.m. local deadline, confirmed Spencer Yeldell, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas. Cornyn, whose $7 million cash-on-hand far outstrips Stockman’s $32,000, is still the heavy favorite, but the latter’s entry into the race could force the incumbent senator to tack farther right as he tries to win over a corner of the party that has recently been skeptical of him.
Stockman’s move shocked Texas political observers: Cornyn had looked poised for an easy March 4 primary contest, where he was set to square off with several candidates with little name recognition. Just 20 minutes before the filing deadline, Texas GOP chair Steve Munisteri told POLITICO that he was “not expecting any recognizable names or people with substantial resources running aside from the senator.”
The Stockman-Cornyn match-up will be the latest in a series of contests that pits tea party-backed candidates against incumbents deemed insufficiently conservative by GOP purists. In Kentucky, for example, tea partiers have rallied around Matt Bevin, who is taking on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And in Mississippi, some conservatives are waging battle against incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran.
Tea party types have been angling for a fight with Cornyn, 61, since this fall, when he didn’t back Lone Star State colleague Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in a procedural motion designed to derail funding for Obamacare ahead of the government shutdown. That move led the Senate Conservatives Fund to blast Cornyn as a “turncoat” and enraged conservatives back home.
I really don’t know very much about either of these two men. I live in California so I don’t really have a dog in this fight, and my inclination is to stay out of elections I am not eligible to vote in. Who wins the primary is up to the voters in Texas. And since it’s Texas, whoever wins the primary will probably win the general election too.
But there is a general principle that applies to this case that I wanted to discuss. A lot of the establishmentarian Republicans have their panties in a twist because Stockman is challenging Cornyn. To which I say “Boo-fucking-hoo!”
I do not believe that politicians have any proprietary rights to the seats they occupy. Those seats belong to the people. This is especially true in a solid red or blue state where the winner of the primary is a virtual lock in the general election.
There is far too much dead wood in Washington DC, especially in the Senate. The only chance to pump fresh blood into politics is during elections.
This is not an endorsement of Steve Stockman, but the voters of Texas deserve meaningful choices. We need more challengers during primaries, not less. That goes for both parties.
May the best man (or woman) win.