Though the media consistently mocks Congressman Steve Stockman’s bizarre behavior and his ridiculously inept campaign for US Senator, a new Human Events-Gravis Marketing poll suggests that Stockman may pose a legitimate threat to John Cornyn in the Republican primary. The poll conducted February 10 to February 12th, shows Cornyn leading 43-28 percent. While this may appear to be a comfortable margin, it puts Cornyn well below the 50 percent threshold he would require to avoid a two person runoff in May.
In addition, Cornyn has reason to worry because a poll taken two months ago, conducted by a different polling firm, had Cornyn up by a lopsided 50-6 margin over Stockman. The trend seems to indicate that the race is tightening rapidly and that John Cornyn would be unwise to assume that he is a lock for the Republican nomination. Primaries are low turnout events, and the Tea Party in Texas is a force to be reckoned with, as they so aptly demonstrated in 2012, when Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz defeated Greg Abbott in the GOP Senate primary.
Stockman has raised hardly any money, and his campaign is a joke. Nobody in the Beltway takes his chances seriously. Nevertheless, this recent poll demonstrates that Texas GOP primary voters are not sold on sending John Cornyn back to Washington for another six years. Further compounding Cornyn’s challenge is his vote to allow a vote on a clean resolution to raise the debt ceiling. While sound policy, it was not what Republican primary voters in Texas were looking for. That vote took place after the poll was conducted so it is possible that his lead has shrunk even more in the past week. In the GOP civil war between the extremist wing and the pragmatic wing, Cornyn cast a vote with the pragmatists. In Texas, aligning with Mitch McConnell instead of Ted Cruz is bad election year politics for a Republican.
In an eight candidate race, there is little doubt that incumbent Senator John Cornyn will receive at least a plurality of votes. However, if he fails to clear 50 percent, he could be forced into a runoff head to head with Stockman. While Cornyn would still be regarded as the favorite, a runoff would allow GOP voters dissatisfied with Cornyn’s leadership, or lack thereof, to coalesce around Tea Party firebrand Stockman and send a message to the establishment wing of the Republican Party. In a Republican Party runoff between Tea Party crazy and the GOP establishment in Texas, it might be a loser’s wager to bet against crazy coming out on top. If John Cornyn is not breaking a sweat he should be, because Stockman is slowly but surely pulling within striking distance.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.