NEW YORK – In Texas, a test of the tea party’s power to oppose the Republican establishment is shaping up as Rep. Steve Stockman prepares for a final push to prevent Sen. John Cornyn from getting a majority plus one vote in this week’s Texas Republican primary.
A Human Events/Gravis poll of Texas GOP registered voters reported Feb. 17, 2014, showed Cornyn, the Republican Senate Whip and a fixture of GOP establishment politics in Washington, polling below 50 percent, with only 43 percent of the respondents favoring Cornyn in this Tuesday’s, March 4, Texas Republican primary, with Stockman, a tea-party favorite, with 28 percent.
As WND previously reported, in a primary contest where seven challengers including Stockman are vying to replace two-term incumbent Cornyn from re-election, Stockman’s goal is to deny Cornyn an absolute majority on March 4 (50 percent plus one vote), so as to force a run-off contest between Cornyn and Stockman, the two leading contenders, on May 27.
If Cornyn is forced into a head-to-heard runoff election against Stockman on May 27, Cornyn’s advantage diminishes, as Stockman has more time to raise money challenging Cornyn’s argument that he is still a “Texas conservative.”
“We’re excited about next Tuesday’s primary election,” Stockman told WND. “I’m counting on smart Texas voters to see past Cornyn’s slick campaign ads and look at his record. Just saying you’re conservative doesn’t make it so.”
Stockman cited the Heritage Foundation Action for America conservative “scorecard” that ranked Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz at 100 percent, with Stockman at 92 percent and Cornyn at 86 percent.
“Cornyn has been a wolf in sheep’s clothing form many years, attacking conservatives in Congress, while he has launched a barrage of personal attacks and mud slinging at me,” Stockman said.
In January, Stockman filed a libel suit against “Texans for a Conservative Majority,” a super PAC supporting Cornyn that had claimed Stockmen had been “jailed more than once,” was “charged with a felony” and “violated federal ethics laws,” as well as falsifying Stockman’s voting record by claiming Stockman voted against a food-stamp reform bill (2013 House Roll Call Vote 476) when in fact, Stockman voted for it.
In a particularly low moment in the Texas primary campaign, the Texas Tribune on Feb. 10, 2014, ran a story publishing a mug shot taken Oct. 5, 1977, some 43 years ago, showing a long-haired Steve Stockman arrested by the police in a traffic accident and initially charged with felony possession of Valium, with Stockman pleading “no contest” to a reduced misdemeanor charge, with the understanding the court record would be dropped after a short period of unofficial probation.
Stockman has readily admitted he turned his life around after he became a born-again Christian, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston in 1990 and became “one of the genuine stars of the Gingrich class” that gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994.
Stockman’s attacks on Cornyn have focused on Cornyn’s record in the Senate refusing to impose a debt limit on President Obama and Cornyn’s support of then-fellow Texas Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson in the effort to make sure no fence got built after the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
Cornyn votes to increase Obama debt limit
On Feb. 12, 2014, Cornyn joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to step forward and cast the final two votes needed to advance the debt ceiling bill after a filibuster led by Texas Republican Ted Cruz required a super-majority of 60 votes to authorize a final simple-majority vote on the Democratic Party-proposed legislation to raise the debt limit until March 2015 without any conditions.
Finding it difficult to get the necessary 60 votes to advance the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., suspended the vote for 45 minutes, to give time McConnell as Minority Leader, and Cornyn, as Republican Senate Whip, the time needed to find enough votes to advance the measure from Republican Senators mostly adverse to the measure.
In the final analysis, the last two votes were provided by McConnell and Cornyn themselves, with the two voting “aye” simultaneously, so that neither could be held responsible for providing the Democrats the final Republican vote needed to advance and pass the debt-ceiling authorization President Obama required to continue deficit spending unimpeded by any conditions or restrictions.
Stockman has attacked Cornyn for a testy interview Cornyn gave the left-leaning Austin American Statesman in which Cornyn attacked Cruz as “being bad for America,” boasting, “I don’t have any regret” about voting on Feb. 12 to raise the Obama debt limit, while claiming Cruz’s opposition to raising Obama’s debt limit was “bad for the economy, bad for the American people.”
Stockman’s campaign website argues that since taking office in 2002, Cornyn has voted to raise the debt ceiling nine times.
“Raising the debt limit only increases reckless spending in Washington,” Stockman argues. “Congress needs to cut spending and balance the budget – not continue to increase our national debt without any spending reforms or reductions.”
Cornyn and Hutchison gut Secure Fence Act
On Dec. 12, 2007, WND reported an amendment submitted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, for the Department of Homeland Security 2008 budget aimed at gutting the already-passed Secure Fence Act 2006, a law advanced by then-Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., with the promise of constructing hundreds of miles of double-layer physical fencing to secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
The Hutchison amendment allowed the Secretary of Homeland Security to use discretion in deciding whether a fence was the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control along the border with Mexico.
“Sen. Cornyn believes that it is important to consult with those who actually live and work on the border instead of simply relying on legislators and bureaucrats in Washington who have never even visited the border,” Brian Walsh, then communications director for Cornyn, told WND in an email.
“Consultation with local landowners and officials has already produced ideas that will help better secure the border,” Walsh said. “Consultation will avoid lawsuits and other delays and will lead to more effective measures to enforce our laws.”
When Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, DHS was on record as opposing the construction of a fence, preferring in many instances the construction of “pedestrian fences” or “virtual fences” instead of double-layered fences as required in the 2006 law.
As WND reported on Oct. 11, 2006, the week after the Secure Fence Act passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 80-19, Cornyn, then chairman of the Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee, told WND he had serious doubts the 700-mile fence on our nearly 2,000 mile-long border with Mexico would ever be built.
At that time, Cornyn supported what ultimately turned out to be flawed and ineffective technological efforts to secure the border.
Cornyn explained to WND that the Department of Homeland Security had recently awarded a contract to Boeing for up to $2.5 billion to pursue high-tech methodologies including sensors, infrared cameras and other devices for border reform.
Termed the “SBInet” program, the DHS contract to Boeing was part of the Secure Border Initiative, or SBI, program DHS hopes will “transform border control through technology and infrastructure.”
Cornyn refuses to defund Obamacare
Stockman has also attacked Cornyn for refusing to sign the letter circulated by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, circulated to defund Obamacare.
On July 23, 2013, Lee and 13 Republican senators, including Cruz and Ron Paul, R-Ky., sent the letter to Reid, stating they would not support a continuing resolution that funds any further implementation or enforcement of Obamacare.
Stockman has argued Lee’s letter that Cornyn refused to sign was designed to put senators on the record by committing to a must-pass bill, the continuing resolution, rather than just taking another symbolic vote on an amendment to repeal Obamacare that the Democrats would most likely defeat, but that President Obama would certainly veto should it pass.